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"Like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic"? Feasibility, Fairness, and Ethical Concerns of a Citizen Carbon Budget for Reducing CO2 Emissions

Reyes-Cruz, Gisela ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5363-5489, Craigon, Peter ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5081-2718, Piskopani, Anna-Maria ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4460-0433, Dowthwaite, Liz ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9269-2849, Lu, Yang ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0583-2688, Lisinska, Justyna ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9876-1972, Shafipour, Elnaz ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5755-0893, Stein, Sebastian ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2858-8857 and Fischer, Joel ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8878-2454 (2024) "Like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic"? Feasibility, Fairness, and Ethical Concerns of a Citizen Carbon Budget for Reducing CO2 Emissions. In: FAccT '24: Proceedings of the 2024 ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency. ACM, pp. 267-278

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Radical and disruptive interventions are needed to reach "Net Zero" by 2050 to avert the climate catastrophe. Although governments, companies, cities, and institutions have pledged to take action and reduce their carbon emissions, the idea of personal carbon allowances or budgets for individuals has also been proposed as a potential national policy in the UK. In this paper, we employ a Research through Design approach to explore the notion of a carbon budget. We present combined results from two studies: firstly a workshop with members of environmental organisations (industry, charity, and policymaking) discussing the concept of a Citizen Carbon Budget (CCB) and app, from the wide perspective of societal desirability drawn from Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI); and secondly, a one-month deployment of a CCB mobile app with twelve members of the public based in the UK. Key findings from the combination of these approaches showed that the CCB app was fruitful in supporting awareness of personal carbon emissions and reflections about people’s lifestyles. However, several concerns were raised, including the unfairness of treating all people equally in environmental policy, regardless of their background and context. We provide considerations for policymaking and design, including intertwined perspectives drawn from the differing approaches of individual and collective action.

Item Type: Book Section
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3630106.3658904
School/Department: School of Science, Technology and Health
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/10203

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