By Liz Stephens
The UK may need to introduce carbon rationing within three years if cuts in carbon emissions are not achieved, an influential think tank has warned.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) is calling for the government to consider the concept of rationing as a "plan B".
It has also recommended that the government runs a 'know your carbon limits' campaign along the lines of alcohol awareness advertising.
The report concludes that personal carbon trading is not the best option for reducing carbon emissions - something environmental campaign groups have been saying for years.
However, it stops short of recommending the abolition of the idea.
The government could come under pressure to give out extra credits if people found it too hard to reduce their emissions, the report said, and it would also be an expensive option compared to other ways of cutting emissions, like carbon taxation.
IPPR's associate director Matthew Lockwood said: "Rationing was introduced in September 1939, to help win the second world war.
"Now the government may need to think about rationing carbon if we are to win the fight against climate change.'
"Personal carbon rationing and trading should not be a first option. But the government should start preparing a 'plan B' in case current policies fail to deliver.
"We can lay the ground work now by giving people much better information about the carbon they are emitting, whether at home or at the petrol pump."
The government is in the process of implementing a number of policies to reduce personal carbon emissions from individuals including the introduction of smart meters to all homes by 2020, banning non-energy saving light bulbs and banding road tax to encourage people to buy more fuel efficient cars.
However, campaigners say these are nowhere near enough.
Friends of the Earth's transport campaigner David Powell said: "Ministers must also do much more to encourage people to leave their cars at home - this means properly funding safe, convenient and affordable public transport and vastly improved facilities for cyclists and pedestrians."
The proposals come as the government prepares for the world environmental summit in Copenhagen.