Carbon Rationing Action Groups (CRAGs)


in Politics, The environment

For those who despair of the possibility of reforming society wholesale to deal with climate change, a community-level alternative lies in the Carbon Rationing Action Groups (CRAGs) that have been established in the UK and elsewhere. The movement describes itself as such:

We form local groups to support and encourage one another in reducing our carbon footprints towards a sustainable and equitable level. We measure our progress against our carbon allowances. We share knowledge and skills in lower carbon living, raise awareness, and promote practical action in the wider community.

On the one hand, participation in such a group is probably preferable to living a conventional life, from a greenhouse gas emissions standpoint. On the other, this sort of turning inward is poorly suited to dealing with a global problem. We don’t each have our own little atmosphere or our own little climate. The future welfare of the world depends on convincing the mass of people to take action, either actively (by making choices motivated by concern about climate) or by passively responding to new incentives arising from public policies like carbon taxes.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Tristan November 20, 2009 at 11:15 pm

“The reason why lone voices can have power in history is only because they do not remain lone voices, but create organizing effects, popular movements, etc… Thus, carbon ethics must be not only about my personal actions and the damage they produce or don’t produce, but how my personal actions are part of a larger community of actors and actions.”

Gail November 23, 2009 at 12:05 am

Also I think that groups like this and the Transition Towns can lead the way in encouraging people who are afraid to change to a carbon neutral life that there is a way to do so successfully.
Besides, participating in such an endeavor does not preclude simultaneous actions on a wider scale. It doesn’t have to be either/or.
From a purely practical standpoint, it would be a benefit in the coming social and political and security chaos, to say nothing of the dangerous climate effects, to have a network of associates with survival skills.
Anyone who makes it through the impending catastrophes is going to need basic knowledge and group support.

Milan November 23, 2009 at 9:46 am

The danger is that involvement in these groups could focus people on the wrong sort of action: reducing emissions by a few kilograms a year by making inconvenient lifestyle changes, while not devoting sufficient energy to building political support for large-scale solutions.

Gail November 23, 2009 at 9:55 am

Hm. Is there any evidence of that? It seems to me that anyone concerned enough about their carbon footprint to go to the uncomfortable lengths to reduce it most likely understands that climate change is a global problem and we’re all on this Titanic together.

Milan November 23, 2009 at 10:19 am

It would be a difficult thing to collect evidence for, since you would be comparing what actually happened with hypothetical alternatives.

Personally, I think it is plausible that people who become obsessed with buying the lowest-carbon baby bottles possible may be missing the big picture – and I see many such discussions on environmental blogs.

Tristan November 23, 2009 at 7:37 pm

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