Work-Based Carbon Trading Slashes Employee Emissions

carbon footprint emissions trading photo

Image credit: net_efekt, used under Creative Commons license.

Whether it is turning work-based emissions savings into community donations, or channeling money from turning off the lights in London into turning on solar in Africa, we've seen some novel schemes for motivating employees to cut carbon and save money. But here's perhaps the simplest idea of all—pay them to do it. And fine them if it don't. A new initiative reveals that it doesn't take a lot of cash to make a big difference. Personal Carbon Trading Results in Energy Savings
Business Green reports that a personal carbon trading scheme for employees has seen some workers cut carbon emissions by as much as 10%. By tracking emissions, and offering a bonus of up to £100 (about US$150) for those who come under their annual emissions allowance, and asking those who do not to pay similar amounts into a collective pot, consultancy firm WSP Environment and Energy—whose controversial study on the impact of working-from-home has caused much debate here at TreeHugger—has managed to significantly impact employee behavior and save on emissions.

Emissions Savings Depend on Location and Activity
Interestingly however, as the Business Green article highlights, results were far from even across geographical locations—with Swedish employees getting by with far fewer emissions than their US compatriots (note that this data appears to be on absolute emissions, not on the relative percentage of emissions cuts, which would be much more interesting to know). The study also showed certain behaviors were much more likely to be impacted than others:

"While the scheme is particularly effective at prompting reductions in emissions from cars and homes, we have found that generally carbon allowances are not enough to influence major, one-off decisions, such as whether or not to take a long-haul flight for a holiday," said David Symons, the director at WSP responsible for the scheme.

Relying on Virtue is Not Enough
As commenter lala noted on my post about turning energy savings into community donations, it would be nice if people just turned off the lights when they weren't using them. But we know that ain't happening. If a little self-interest and friendly competition helps change that, then I for one am all for it.

More on Energy Saving and Fundraising
Save Money for Your Boss. Save Money for the Community.
Turning Energy Savings at Work into Solar for Africa
How Saving Energy at Work Can Light Up Africa with Solar (Video)
Growkids Green Fundraising for Schools

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