A new scheme that utilises the Nectar card loyalty platform to provide customers with real-time calculations of personal energy use and carbon emissions has been launched in the UK.
The five-month trial, which is open to 1000 participants, is being conducted by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Art, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) in partnership with Nectar, BP and technology firm Atos Origin.
On registering for the trial each volunteer will be given carbon credits to cover their carbon emissions. Every time a volunteer buys fuel at a BP petrol station and uses their Nectar loyalty card, carbon credits will be deducted in real-time from their carbon account.
Participants can use an online trading system called CarbonDAQ to check their carbon usage and trade any surplus with other volunteers for virtual currency.
The RSA says the project will simulate the provision of incentives to encourage volunteers to take steps to reduce ‘personal emissions’ for which they are directly responsible, such as car use and home heating and lighting.
"The trial will increase our understanding of people’s willingness and readiness to record and measure their own carbon emissions. It will also show whether having an accurate view of their carbon footprint, people are more likely to make lifestyle changes," says the RSA.
Atos Worldline has designed, built and will run the card transaction processing systems at all BP forecourts across the UK. When participants buy petrol, Atos Worldline will manage the real-time, secure transfer of the purchase details to the RSA's CarbonDAQ, which then calculates the credits based on fuel grade and volume purchased.
Matt Prescott, director of the RSA's CarbonLimited project, says: "Thanks to the technology solution provided by Atos Origin, we are able to undertake this innovative trial to understand how a personal carbon trading scheme could operate in practice, and gain some understanding about how people will interact with it, helping to take the debate about personal carbon trading forward."
Anne Ware, VP, public sector, Atos Origin, says the trial uses an existing technology infrastructure to help deliver information that will help address one of the pressing issues of the 21st century.
"At the end of the day it’s all about encouraging responsibility and encouraging people to take action, whatever that action might be to help reduce their carbon footprint,” adds Clive Head, BP Retail’s UK loyalty and alliance manager.
A government report last month concluded that personal carbon trading has potential but is "essentially ahead of its time", with a national scheme predicted to cost between £700 million and £2 billion to set up, with running costs of £1 billion to £2 billion a year.
The RSA says the first results of the trial will be available in the autumn.