I do not believe that people can change. I do not believe in “voluntary behaviour change”.
Despite massive amounts of money ploughed into “communications” with the great British public, people have not shifted.
The Energy Saving Trust (EST) has collected and analysed public attitudes to Energy Saving over the years.
I was struck by the invariability of the response “buckets” presented at the Tenalps Energy and Environment Conference 2009 by Marian Spain of the EST :-
What this means is that we cannot change. There is absolutely no point in shelling out for advertising campaigns. Energy Saving is not a product anyone wants to buy.
Why does the UK Government bother with trying to change public attitudes and behaviour :-
The people cannot change, because they are unable to relate their behaviour to the consumption of an invisible resource.
Keeping up appearances is more valuable than cutting costs on Energy and Water bills.
People heat their homes to make sure that everyone feels comfortable. People heat their homes on the off-chance that a visitor pops by.
People buy each other electric appliances and gadgets for birthdays and anniversaries, to keep the social machine well-oiled.
People flush shared toilets several times over to make sure that the next person doesn’t have to face any unpleasantness.
People regularly take more baths and showers than they need so as not to cause offence.
People install and use more electric lights than they need, for reasons of conviviality and enjoyment, or just the entertainment of bright illumination.
People buy large television screens to share the excitement with friends and family.
People drive and fly long distances to visit friends and loved ones.
None of this can be changed.
What people want cannot be changed. And people do have a right to a good standard of living, when they work so hard.
And you can’t just take away all of their choices of lifestyle.
You have to make it easy for people to comply.
Installing smart meters won’t help. Not even a teeny tiny eensy weensy little bit.
People will carry on using Energy and Water like there’s no tomorrow (which there won’t be).
What needs to happen is that the Energy is Zero Carbon Energy and the Water is Greywater and Harvested Rainwater.
It still needs to be on-tap, provided, public utilities.
You can’t rely on people to be able to have the finance, patience and skills to create their own Energy and collect their own Water.
Most people don’t even have the insight that they need to use less Carbon Energy and less Potable Water.
So how will they have the skills and reason to provide their own Energy and Water ?
And there are still large sections of the population who just don’t care about Climate Change, and they never will. So you can’t expect them to join in any Energy and Water Saving efforts.
Some people do not respond to campaigns, even good causes.
People need Energy and Water.
The challenge is for the Government to get a grip and face the facts : voluntary targets don’t work, and they never will work.
Punishing people for Carbon Emissions won’t work either.
You need to give them the Renewable Energy, Insulation, Recycled Water, Public Transport and Local Food that they need.
You need to mandate Local Authorities to implement their Climate Change policies themselves.
The people themselves cannot shape up, even if they want to. They need the infrastructure and services.
Since home heating is perhaps the biggest source of domestic Carbon Emissions, we need a mass home insulation programme.
Since transport is a rapidly rising source of Carbon Emissions, we need a massive investment in Public Transport, and State-controlled factories set up to build the electric vehicles we need.
Since Electricity is a major problem, and since much transport has to become electrified, we need all forms of Renewable generation, centralised and de-centralised.
(Nuclear Power and Carbon Capture and Storage (for Coal) are not Renewable Energy. They are expensive and should be forgotten.)
Local Authorities should be tasked with radically altering the Water and Sewage Treatment works : so that BioMethane is fed into the National Grid.
Water companies should be made to send installers to every home to install rainwater harvesting equipment, and greywater systems.
The Government should start a massive national Wood Products company to manage and deliver BioMass to every home, and have a network of installers fit efficient Wood burning stoves into every home.
All urban Local Authorities should be mandated to set up Combined Heat and Power networks.
All the Energy Companies should be forced to take on the role of “Energy Saving” service providers, instead of just handing out compact fluorescent lightbulbs.
Abandon Coal. Forget Carbon Capture and Storage. Ignore Nuclear. The future, if we have one, is Renewable, Sustainable.
There is no room for shilly-shallying, dilly-dallying. There’s been so much time wasted on flippant fripperies.
Social Science is impotent. Public Relations doesn’t work. Blaming people doesn’t work. Landing responsibility on Companies doesn’t work because they don’t want to spend the money without generous handouts/bailouts.
Stop passing the buck and start spending the dough.