IN times of trouble, there’s always someone who will hark back to the Second World War. This week that person was actor Joanna Lumley, star of Absolutely Fabulous, who declared: “At some stage, I think we might have to go back to some kind of system of rationing, where you're given a certain number of points and it's up to you how to spend them, whether it’s buying a bottle of whisky or flying in an aeroplane."

How would Lumley’s rations work?

She suggested a points system in which we are all given a certain number of climate credits. “It’s up to you how to spend them,” she said.

So is her proposition going down well?

Not entirely. There were more than a few people who clearly didn’t like being told they might have to cut back by a wealthy celebrity who has travelled the world and experienced some luxury and glamour. Among the criticisms being made is that there are many people out there, in poverty, who are already living on the equivalent of, or less than, rationing.

Surely she’s not advocating we make the poor live on smaller rations?

No. Her idea does appear to be more about the rich cutting back and people not hopping on the plane to Magaluf for the weekend.

Rations for the rich celebrities like Lumley first – now I like the idea of that.

Quite. Ration the richest10 per cent in the world first. After all, their lifestyles contribute almost half of global emissions.

Remind me what war-time rations were, so I can start my menu planner?

A typical weekly allowance for an adult during the early 1940s was 4 oz bacon and ham, 2 chops other meat, 2 oz butter, 2 oz cheese, 4 oz margarine, 4oz cooking fat, 3 pints milk, 8 oz sugar, 2 oz tea, 1 fresh egg, 3 oz sweets.

But cutting back on the butter is not really what Lumley is suggesting. What she considers should be rationed are things like holidays, travel, luxury goods, meat.

Is Lumley’s war-time rationing like any system being seriously looked at?

Actually it’s very like Personal Carbon Allowances, an emissions mitigation proposal that was first developed in the 1990s. This involves, as one paper in Nature put it, every adult receiving “an equal, tradable carbon allowance that reduces over time in line with national targets.”

The study recommended such an approach, saying: “Although a PCA scheme would not be easy to design or implement, given the need for very ambitious reduction targets, climate-ambitious countries should ask: if not PCAs, what other scheme should be put in place to affect high-carbon behaviours?”