This is a page from the old DTQs website and is now somewhat outdated. The new site can be found at:

TEQs (Tradable Energy Quotas) is the new name for DTQs.



Here are the essential features of DTQs:

(1) Citizens at the centre. DTQs ginvolve citizens in the essential and difficult task of reducingour collective dependence on fossil fuels.

(2) All in the same boat. At the same time, they include all participants, including companies, sole-traders, individuals and the Government within a single market and a single scheme. DTQs therefore represent and reflect the common purpose. The Government gains the credibility and authority of being itself bound to comply with the system it has set up. Industry and the services have to live within the same constraints as their customers and employees. There are no exceptions, no free loaders. We are in this together.

(3) A generic scheme. Electronic rationing has to take – more or less – the form of DTQs. The alternative is to dist-down and re-use the obsolete system of ration-books and scissors.

(4) Double competence. The intensity of the emerging fuel depletion crisis is such that it is likely to force fuel rationing upon us sooner, and with deeper reduction targets, than any policy-response to climate change. Fortunately, DTQs are equally suited as a response either to fuel depletion or climate change, and the model can and should be developed at speed with both these purposes in view.

(5) A guarantee. The Carbon Budget sets clearly-defined upper limits to the quantity of fossil fuels that can be burned. Those upper limits are set for a long time ahead, allowing consumers and industry alike to make ambitious but realistic plans to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels, though changes will doubtless be needed in the light of events affecting fuel supplies, and changes in the climate. The Budget is robust and constant, needing little or no revision or intervention, however much the economy may fluctuate through crises of, say, depression or inflation. All this amounts to a guarantee that the limits set by the Budget will actually be met.

(6) International value. By showing that it is possible to achieve a deep, orderly energy-descent, DTQs could encourage nations to commit themselves to essential policy initiatives for reduction in fossil-fuel dependency, such as Contraction and Convergence, the Depletion Protocol, or a transformed Kyoto process.

(7) Separated powers. DTQs separate the task of setting the Carbon Budget from the quite different task of enabling all participants – individuals, industry, public bodies and Government departments – to live within the Budget. Government’s role is that of the “good guy”; everything it does can be seen as enabling us all to achieve the demanding targets which the Carbon Policy Committee has set. This positive leadership is central to the success of the scheme.

(8) Freedom from Command and Control. DTQs are designed as a system which gives freedom from “command and control”: they make regulation and the other apparatus of the authoritarian state (or nanny state) substantially redundant. They set a clear Budget in which all participants, collectively, will have to contain their consumption of fossil fuels, and they show what that Budget will be in the future. It is then up to the participants themselves to decide what measures to take in order to achieve those results. Creative judgment and success is built into the system.


Directory of research centres and other organisations

DTQs and their variants – the whole field can be grouped under the general heading of “Energy Rationing Systems” – are being studied at several research centres in Britain and other countries. One variant is called “Personal Carbon Allowances”: emission rights, or “carbon allowances” are limited to citizens only (excluding all other participants such as small traders, industry and the Government); a further variant believes that, though industry could be included in the scheme, the market in which the allowances are traded should be kept separate from the market in which citizens’ allowances are traded. All the energy rationing systems being considered, other than DTQs, are also limited in their purpose, being designed to reduce carbon emissions in the context of climate change, without reference to their possible application in the context of fuel shortages.

The following are among the organisations involved in some way in DTQs - researching or planning to research them, or making the case for them. The details given below have been supplied by the centres themselves. Any other ccntres wishing to be entered in this Directory should get in touch with David Fleming (see, supplying an email address, a website address and a one-sentence summary of research objectives.

Oxford Environmental Change Institute (ECI) / UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC). Contact: Brenda or Tina Fawcett The objective is to research the case for personal carbon allowances (PCAs) as a means of reducing carbon emissions from household energy use and personal travel. Activity includes: developing the methodology for measuring personal carbon emissions, comparing PCAs with alternative policies, researching the effects of PCAs on different groups, particularly the fuel-poor, critically assessing the benefits and disbenefits of PCAs, and encouraging understanding and debate about PCAs within the research and policy communities and by the general public.

RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce). Contact: Jonathan Carr-West The Trustees have recently approved a proposal to investigate the practicalities of a personal carbon trading system.

Sustainable Development Commission. Contact Oliver Knight The SDC is keen to see further research on the DTQ concept as part of a range of longer-term policy measures to tackle climate change - this was one of the recommendations to Government in our submission to the Climate Change Programme Review process.

Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Contact: Richard Starkey. Objective: to provide a detailed evaluation of the appropriateness of DTQs as an instrument for reducing greenhouse gas emissions arising from energy use.


The author of this website, David Fleming, is an independent policy analyst. He first published the concept of DTQs in 1996. DTQs are set in their context in his two books, now nearing completion: The Lean Economy: Survivor’s Guide to a Future that Works, and Lean Logic: A Dictionary for Our Time. He is founder of The Lean Economy Connection, an extended dialogue between people who are thinking ahead.

Acknowledgements. Elm Farm Research Centre provided financial support at various stages in the development of DTQs. Much of the detail of DTQs was developed in conversations with Richard Starkey, now working at the Tyndall Centre. Thank-you to both.

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Introduction to DTQs
DTQs Dictionary