Friday, 15 November 2019


Personal Annual Carbon Allowance

At RenSMART, we have been working to offer a set of applications to enable individuals or households to calculate, track and reduce their carbon footprint, but this is not much use if you do not know what your carbon footprint, ideally, should be.

As part of this process, we have developed the concept of a personal carbon allowance. An annual carbon allowance based on traceable scientific sources.

A personal annual carbon allowance (PACA) is the amount of carbon dioxide or equivalent gasses (CO2e) a person should aim to reduce themselves to generating in a given year.

In the case of a RenSMART PACA, we propose a voluntary allowance that people sign up to and track.
There are four steps to realising this:
  1. Calculating a baseline level. The amount you generate now.
  2. Calculating the maximum you could generate to stay within a target. We are aiming at maximum 1.5C rise in temperature by 2030.
  3. Finding changes in behaviour that would meet that target.
  4. Measuring the CO2 generated or mitigated to show whether you are on target.

Old idea, new format.

Personal carbon allowances are not a new idea. They have been floated many times before, but have not been implemented. The reasons are no doubt many, complex and varied [2].

One implementation suggestion from 2013 [1] was to take all of the CO2 generated in the UK and share it out with children taking half of an adult share. The calculations showed that sharing the CO2 emissions, generated at that time by the UK, would set each adults allowance at  4336 kgCO2 / year and each child's to 2168 kgCO2 / year. The suggestion was that the allowance would be reduced each year to meet an agreed target, with those over producing paying to offset and those under producing getting a payment.

We have chosen to go with the simplest methodology we can for calculating a PACA. Take the target global carbon emissions to attain the goal of keeping the global temperature at a safe level. Divide this by the number of humans on the planet.

Calculation of the PACA

  • 2020 target = 38.4 GtCO2e / year
  • 2020 World Population estimate 7.87 billion
  • Suggested PACA for 2020 38.4 billion / 8.87 billion = 4.892 t = 4892 kg CO2 per year = 1 PACA
You will find our sources and calculations on the PACA page.

Nudge psychology

Rather than an enforced PACA that has been suggested in the past, we would like to introduce a PACA that people can sign up to. Rather that wave a statutory stick, threatening taxation on using more than your allowance, we would like to offer a voluntary nudge.

As an example of an energy saving nudge, we have created a service called economyGREEN. It provides a 24 hour renewable energy forecast and a companion app provides advice on when to use your washing machine etc. when renewable energy generation is at its highest. You can find further details on the economyGREEN web page.

Calculating a Base Level

We intend to take the best methodologies and calculations available to calculate an individuals current CO2e footprint. We will make the methodology publicly available for scrutiny and reuse, with an agile update process taken from the software industry to constantly improve its accuracy.
This we intend to develop as an open source project, freely available for anyone to use and include in their own projects.

Making Changes

We will make a set of tools available to individuals and organisations. We will offer applications to help people to keep track of their progress towards the goals they have chosen.
Our first, very modest tool, is called economyGREEN [5] and helps people to use electricity when its carbon intensity is at its lowest (when the largest amount of it is from renewable sources)

Keeping Score

RenSMART will offer an online service to keep track, like a fitness tracker but for carbon emissions.
Again, we propose to make this software open source. Free for anyone to use or contribute to.

Changing the PACA

Our methodology will be evidence based and list the sources used. We will openly discuss the decisions made, justify them and where improvements are found, apply them.
We will update the suggested PACA every six months to keep to a target CO2 level and maximum temperature rise.





[4] :-)


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