Reducing carbon emissions by households: the effects of footprinting and personal allowances




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


Nearly half of Britain’s carbon dioxide emissions result from the activity of households, both within the home and from personal transport. This research examines how the carbon dioxide emissions of households can be reduced, particularly through the calculation of carbon footprints and testing the public’s reaction to the concept of personal carbon allowances (PCAs). Two data collection stages were used - a postal survey providing quantitative data, followed by semi-structured interviews producing mainly qualitative data. The research was carried out in a largely rural district which is run by a council noted for its work on sustainable energy, Newark and Sherwood. The survey looked at PCAs as well as a variety of contemporary issues that might influence household footprints such as energy efficiency grants and information, as well as relationships with gas and electricity suppliers. Each interview involved the calculation of a household carbon footprint, the identification of measures to reduce it, and the gathering of attitudes about personal carbon allowances, in order to identify challenges and opportunities with respect to reducing household carbon emissions. Support for PCAs was higher than anticipated, and tended to be associated with those who were prepared to use public transport or cycle more, or were supportive of renewable energy in homes. Interviewees had much to say about individual carbon reducing measures. Opposition was associated with those who envisaged that they would be unlikely to sell carbon units. Regarding personal transport, long commutes were common, and the cost of public transport was of concern. Specific findings were made about domestic heating, insulation, lighting, refrigeration, water use, commuting, public transport, and rail as an alternative to short-haul flights. There was more interest in monetary savings than carbon savings. Recommendations about policy and regarding further research are made.



rationing, trading, PCA, PCT, attitudes, climate change, energy, energy efficiency, transport, carbon emissions, footprinting, personal carbon allowances



Research Institute