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Wartime-style rationing of food, fuel, flights needed to 'rapidly and fairly' fight climate change, researchers claim

Photo by Paco Freire/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A recently released academic paper suggested that governments should implement wartime-style rationing policies on goods, including food, fuel, and flights, to reduce the impacts of climate change, Fox News Digital reported.

Researchers at the University of Leeds in England argued that rationing policies similar to those imposed during World War I and II "could help states reduce emissions rapidly and fairly."

According to the researchers' paper in the journal of Ethics, Policy & Environment, rationing has been "neglected" as a viable policy option for mitigating climate change. Furthermore, the paper claimed that such radical policies would be more effective than the "slow and inequitable" results from imposed tax increases.

"We argue that rationing could help states reduce emissions rapidly and fairly," the paper stated. "Our arguments in this paper draw on economic analysis and historical research into rationing in the UK during (and after) the two world wars, highlighting success stories and correcting misconceptions."

The academics argued that rationing is worthy of "serious consideration" and noted that the "rejection of markets, and a commitment to fair shares, is a key part of the value of rationing, and precisely what made rationing attractive to the public in the 1940s."

The researchers admit that rationing is "unattractive" and even "unpalatable" to most now but that it is "important to highlight the fact that this was not the case for many of those who had experienced rationing."

"And here it is important to emphasize the difference between rationing itself and the scarcity that rationing was a response to," the paper stated. "Of course, people did welcome the end of rationing, but they were really celebrating the end of scarcity, and celebrating the fact that rationing was no longer necessary. But, as long as there was scarcity, rationing was accepted, even welcomed, or demanded."

The paper suggested implementing "allowance-based" schemes, such as limiting the number of long-haul flights an individual can make per year or the amount of fuel an individual can purchase per month.

The academics addressed modernizing allowance-based policies by implementing "carbon cards," similar to bank cards, which could be used to "keep track of your carbon allowance rather than ration cards."

Other goods that governments could ration include fuel, household energy, food, and clothing, according to the researchers.

The paper also mentioned banning "carbon-intensive farming methods and factory-farmed livestock."

The academics acknowledge that heavy regulations on the farming and oil industry would create energy and food scarcity. They noted that people are more willing to accept rationing when goods and services are scarce.

"While regulation created the scarcity, rationing would manage the scarcity – and, as we have argued, rationing has proved its effectiveness in managing scarcity," the researchers explained.

"There is a limit to how much we can emit if we are to reduce the catastrophic impacts of climate change. In this sense, the scarcity is very real," said Rob Lawlor, an author of the paper.

"The concept of rationing could help, not only in the mitigation of climate change, but also in reference to a variety of other social and political issues — such as the current energy crisis," stated Nathan Wood, the paper's lead author.

The researchers did not respond to a request for comment, Fox News Digital reported.

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