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Applying personal carbon trading: a proposed ‘Carbon, Health and Savings System’ for British Columbia, Canada

Guzman, L. I., Clapp, A.
Climate Policy 2017 v.17 no.5 pp. 616-633
behavior change, carbon, carbon footprint, carbon markets, case studies, climate, climate change, collective action, energy conservation, environmental policy, experts, humans, interviews, motivation, recreation, social networks, stakeholders, sustainable technology, taxes, British Columbia
Addressing climate change requires the synergy of technological, behavioural and market mechanisms. This article proposes a policy framework that integrates the three, deploying personal carbon trading as a key element within a policy portfolio to reduce personal carbon footprints. It draws on policy and human motivation literatures that address the behavioural changes that may be needed in the context of a long-term threat such as climate change. This proposal builds on an analysis of the British Columbia carbon tax, international examples of carbon pricing instruments and strategies for behavioural change such as social networks, loyalty management, mobile apps and gamification. Interviews were conducted with experts in financial services, energy conservation and clean technology, as well as with specialists in climate, health and taxation policy. Their input, together with a review of the theoretical literature and practical case studies, informed the proposed design of a Carbon, Health and Saving System for promoting individual engagement and collective action by linking long-term climate mitigation measures with short-term personal and social goals, including health, recreation and social reinforcement. Policy Relevance This article identifies areas for climate policy innovation and recommends policies that can support, promote and enable personal carbon budgeting and collective action. Although this study is focused on British Columbia, both the input provided by key opinion leaders and the proposed framework are applicable to other jurisdictions. This policy proposal shows how personal carbon trading could work in the context of a Canadian province with an existing climate mitigation policy. It also specifies a minimum viable product approach to establishing the economic, social and technological foundations for personal carbon trading. The Carbon, Health and Saving System identifies the technologies and stakeholders needed to implement personal carbon trading, and offers the possibility of motivating a widespread conscious human response in the event that carbon taxation proves insufficient to generate economic adaptation in a changing climate.