Example Initiative - Fownhope CRAG

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Fownhope CRAG is a small, voluntary, grassroots carbon rationing action group set up in 2007 in the village of Fownhope in Southwest England, UK, with the primary goal of reducing the annual carbon footprint of its members.

Context: The Perceived Problem

FOWNHOPE CRAG is part of the broader CRAG network (for more information about CRAGs, see http://www.carbonrationing.org.uk/) and explicitly recognises the risks posed by raised levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Members support the goal of reducing their personal carbon footprints to a sustainable and equitable level. They support the goal of capping levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide at 350 parts per million (ppm).

Initiative Solution and Process

Individual CRAG members measure their progress and attempt to reduce their carbon footprints. Members of the CRAG decide themselves about:

  • the methodology for measuring their footprints (based on the general CRAG calculator)
  • setting of reduction targets
  • decisions on offsetting options
  • the nature of community events they participate in and support (e.g. tree planting events).

Their working procedure and decisions are clearly documented in their meeting minutes available for everyone publically from the internet.

Contraction and Convergence Elements


The primary aim of the initiative is to contract the carbon footprint of the CRAG members. However, members of the CRAG also to “support each other in reducing those footprints, sharing skills and knowledge in lower carbon living and promoting awareness and practical action in the wider community”. Practical actions they have been involved in include planting 350 trees around the village of Fownhope.


Members of the CRAG also voluntarily support a tree-planting project in the Gambia, which concerns planting the Jathropa tree to combat desertification as well as to produce renewably sourced heating oil. The planting project illustrates how social equity may be addressed through voluntary support of environmentally appropriate projects which offer additional socio-economic benefits.

Current Status

The scope of the CRAG has widened from the original focus on carbon reduction and CRAG members have become involved in a number of related projects and feasibility studies into things such as provision of locally sourced alternative energy (biomass, solar), decreasing food miles and wider sustainability goals. They have also established links with a climate club in Central Europe and share knowledge and experiences with them. There is renewed media interest in and publicity for the FOWNHOPE CRAG initiative in the region.

Click here to watch a video about Fownhope CRAG

Further reading about CRAGs

Fawcett, T., Bottrill, C., Boardman, B., Lye, G. (2007) Trialling personal carbon allowances. UK Energy Research Centre. Available from:http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/research/energy/downloads/fawcett-pca07.pdf "> http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/research/energy/downloads/fawcett-pca07.pdf

Howell, R. (2009) The Experience of Carbon Rationing Action Groups: Implications for a Personal Carbon Allowances Policy. Final Report. Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre for the Environment. Available from: http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/publications/downloads/howell09crags.pdf

Parag, Y. and Strickland, D. (2009) Personal Carbon Budgeting: What people need to know, learn and have in order to manage and live within a carbon budget, and the policies that could support them? Working Paper. UK Energy Research Centre. Available from: http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/research/energy/downloads/paragstrickland09pcbudget.pdf

Seyfang, G., Lorenzoni, I., Nye, M. (2007) Personal Carbon Trading: notional concept or workable proposition? Exploring theoretical, ideological and practical underpinnings. CSERGE Working Paper EDM 07-03. Available from: http://www.uea.ac.uk/env/cserge/pub/wp/edm/edm_2007_03.htm