Updated on 2021-01-29 by Adam Hardy
Tell us briefly what work you want to do and what it will aim to achieve… (750 chars)
Our first goal is to enlighten the general public, academia, industry & gov’t about the potential of carbon rationing to lead on reduction of CO2 emissions. This will then feed into our second goal: aiding the creation of carbon rationing schemes for fair & equitable CO2 reduction via voluntary local participation with a view to wider adoption. These aims fit with FPF’s Systems Change programme & Fair Transition focus area.
We seek funding for an awareness raising text/audio/video/social media-based communications programme on the pros & cons of carbon rationing, alternatives, the consequences of climate action or inaction, and the impacts on citizens, business, industry & the world.
Tell us what the Foundation’s grant would be spent on… (250 chars)
Salaries, IT & audio-visual equipment, travel expenses, presentation, meet-up & small conference hosting costs – basis of an awareness campaign for carbon rationing, feeding a separately funded 2nd goal, the creation of local carbon rationing schemes.
Provide a full description of your proposal. (6500 chars)
The Carbon Budget is a measure of the amount of CO2 we can emit without the average global temperature rising more than 1.5°C, which is the globally approved 2015 Paris Climate Accord goal. To stay safe, we have just 10 years of current emissions in the Carbon Budget, which must then cease entirely. The current, small projected decreases however will result in catastrophic global warming of 3 or 4°C.
Offering the Public Reliable Information
We see signs of new understanding by the public, with Greta Thunberg & the student strikers, Extinction Rebellion, & a change in media orgs like the BBC, e.g. Attenborough’s contributions. But knowledge of climate change does not per se bring knowledge of policy & economics. Extinction Rebellion makes economically severe demands & Greta Thunberg issues unsympathetic admonitions at every UN conference. The public needs more accessible and more detailed information.
While the failings of Chicago School free market capitalism are blamed as the cause of & hindrance to action on global warming (the tragedy of the commons or limits to growth), most governments still embrace the ideology and rarely enact laws that impinge on free markets.
A new business-as-usual has arisen. Governments & industry set 2050 for bringing emissions down to net zero, where ‘net’ allows for offsetting continued CO2 emissions. Oil concerns forsee oil production at 50% of today’s level by 2050 and still have market capitalisations that reflect their proven oil reserves & the profit from those future sales. This represents CO2 emissions far in excess of the bounds of the Carbon Budget.
Government & industry discuss only carbon tax or pricing to dampen demand & new tech to drive the energy transition.
Business-as-usual sees oil concerns legally bound to protect current shareholder value rather than the climate and they wrongly influence the climate narrative to this end.
Deeply flawed economic research on climate change impacts by economists such as Nordhaus & Tol heavily underestimates costs of damage caused by climate change, feeding into United Nations IPCC reports which give world leaders another reason to ignore the dangers of climate change.
Chances are slim that ‘business-as-usual’ will achieve the Paris 2015 goals, but few voices criticise it.
This policy and industrial action is taking place with no involvement of ordinary citizens. Despite this, the narrative is that citizens must play their part by reducing their own carbon footprints. This leaves much of the public unhappy about their own apparent responsibilities and untrusting of ‘business-as-usual’. This is leading to higher rates of mental health issues on the one hand & further climate denial on the other. “Denial” in its new form includes the downplaying of criticism of Net Zero despite robust predictions of global catastrophe.
From the Local to the Global
Our final goal is the adoption of carbon rationing worldwide. Although far beyond our accountability line, this kind of systems level policy intervention is necessary if we wish to preserve what we can of today’s society.
To do this, we aim to make rationing an obvious solution (& catalyse the formation of separately funded local rationing schemes) communicating how participation is forward-looking rather than dreadful, how “think global, act local” has real meaning where carbon rationing can be scaled.
People instinctively dislike rationing, seeing it as heavy-handed state intervention that deprives. But carbon rationing and Total Carbon Rationing is a fairer alternative to a regressive tax or pricing mechanism that for many reasons won’t work.
How to Present the Argument
With public focus on reducing carbon footprints, many people actually self-ration. Others would but fear free-riders or loss of needed or desired goods & services. Presented in a sympathetic way, the message about rationing is designed to raise awareness about the threats of climate change and the positive outcomes rationing brings.
Existing carbon rationing pilot schemes e.g. in Lahti, Finland (population 800,000) cover local transport, domestic energy and participating retailers. People keep an eye on their rations via a mobile phone app just like a bank account, and buy more or sell excess rations. This is great educational material: how fairly can pensioners heat their homes, what about new parents, wheel chair users, tourists?
Another example: people often struggle to work through comparisons that might seem obvious, e.g. are diesel or petrol or electric cars greener? There are multiple factors to take into account, e.g. CO2 emissions, non-CO2 emissions, air quality, battery life, built-in emissions. Rationing would provide clarity and an overview.
The stories must be told in a way acceptable to the audience, using language and emphasis to circumvent inherent biases. For instance, climate change is wrongly portrayed as a direct threat, but is actually a risk multiplier. This explains why people are generally unable to grasp the threat as clearly as they would for e.g. COVID-19. And since it affects everything, we must concentrate on topics relevant to our audience: transport, home energy use, food, peer group, free-riders, affordability.
We must tap research from academics, NGOs & Gov’t and contribute our own, including psychological, societal and political reviews, comparative analyses with carbon taxes & pricing, regulatory approaches, economic reviews, oil & energy industry reviews, systems analysis in governance and policy.
We’ll use articles, podcasts/radio, talks, conferences, video & social media. Building our audience & our credibility will require communication skills, knowledge of social media & search engine optimisation ability.
Our goals are: building credibility & a trusted voice; joining academic & NGO networks; joining local gov’t & activist networks (crossing over with our aim to create rationing schemes); achieving good search engine rankings and social media followings; and the ability to attract well-known names to participate in interviews and videos.
I worked at BP and saw the evidence & impact of my work on the environment, & realised things could not continue as they were. I saw the need to take action – setting up this charity.
I have an MSc in ecology, volunteered in Africa, worked on IT systems in finance & energy. Now I am learning to influence, making connections, e.g. Thunberg’s Fridays For Future, my local neighourhood forum, Islington & Leeds Council, Oxford, LSE, NGOs like the Grantham Inst, TED Talks.
Please tell us how you heard about the Foundation and why you have chosen to apply to us to fund your work. (500 chars)
I’ve known of Friends Provident for some time and while researching sources of funds, was informed of FPF by colleagues. I was encouraged by FPF’s concentration on global warming and pragmatic and almost radical theory of change. My concern is that time for change is now drastically short, if the world is to avert the worst effects of climate change. While I feel I might have more success asking for lower levels of funding, this urgency makes me raise my request to jump start these activities.
This part is not included – I need to find some way to include it, perhaps on the website: Ecocore is to be incorporated as a company limited by guarantee with directors appointed by Rational Carbon, a charity (application to be submitted dependent upon the upcoming initial trustee meeting). Rational Carbon is bounded in its activities by the charitable purposes defining how it can promote carbon rationing and climate change awareness. It can also direct similar activities by Ecocore which fall outside of the charitable purposes, such as political advocacy and campaign work.