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Britons form clubs to cut carbon, pay for overuse

'Carbon rationing action groups' – where members swap tips and set targets – are cropping up across the country.

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CRAGs: Andy Ross (2nd l.), leads a march of British Carbon Reduction Action Groups (CRAGs), a network of people voluntarily cutting their carbon footprint to demonstrate the public's desire for action on climate change.

Courtesy of Guy Shrubsole

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It's the time of year when many Britons might be thinking of hopping on a plane to get some sun. But Andy Ross won't be joining them.

It's not that Mr. Ross is scared of flying. Instead, he is trying to make the world a cooler place. By cutting out leisure flights and adopting a host of other measures, he has reduced his own carbon emissions by more than 80 percent in two years.

More important, Ross has not been acting alone. Determined to make a difference, he has pioneered a movement of scores of Britons who are voluntarily rationing their energy usage to limit their carbon footprint.

Carbon rationing action groups, or CRAGs, are proliferating across the country (www.carbonrationing.org.uk) and have recently spread to the United States and Canada. Ross reckons there are about 16 up and running in Britain and a similar number in formation. Each has up to a dozen members who meet regularly to swap tips, set targets, and agree to rules on how to shrink their carbon footprints.

"It's empowering," says Ross, "because it makes you feel like you're doing something rather than sitting on the side carping about it."

So how do CRAGs work? The idea is that everyone in the group voluntarily adheres to a carbon ration. Members supply the group's "carbon accountant" with details of their car mileage, household bills, and any personal air travel. This is then converted into CO2 emitted using simple online conversion tools.

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