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Voluntary Behaviour Change Failure

Image Credit : The Climate Change Committee

The Economic Recession has had a clear impact on the rate of British Carbon Dioxide Emissions.

However, peoples’ individual behaviour change has not been an additional factor :-

Hat tip goes to Paul Mobbs for his note :-

“Have a look at Chapter 11/Chapter 12 for some eco-gems — e.g. “Domestic energy consumption for lighting and electrical appliances in the UK between 1970 and 2007 increased by 155 per cent…”Between 1989–91 and 2008, the proportion of children in Great Britain of
primary school age travelling to school by car rose steadily, from 27 per cent to 43 per cent…”

Asking people to curb their energy enthusiasm simply isn’t working.

Concern over the Economy is going to trump green thinking :-

“Cash, not climate change, is altering driver behaviour : Exclusive by Damien Henderson, transport correspondent : 4 Jul 2010 : Motorists have turned their backs on concerns about climate change thanks to the recession’s grip on Britain, a survey has found. An RAC poll found that the environment had slipped down the list of priorities over the last year while saving money on petrol bills had gained importance. The survey suggests the UK and Holyrood governments now face an uphill task persuading drivers to cut their carbon emissions. The results make for gloomy reading among policy-makers as transport accounts for around a quarter of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions and is one of the few sectors where emissions are set to increase. Most worrying is the proportion of motorists who feel that their actions have little impact on the environment – about a third of those polled said they would drive regardless of the environmental impact, while an equal proportion believed either nothing they did would make a difference or were not sure if it would make a difference. The RAC said this was influencing people’s willingness to cut their carbon emissions or consider buying electric or other low-pollution vehicles…”

However, there may be a silver lining (irony alert) in this cloud. As Paul Mobbs points out :-

“Also see Chapter 5 — the rich are still richer even though everyone else on average got poorer.”

And that means that as poverty rises, energy use will necessarily fall. Brilliant ! What a social engineering solution to the Greenhouse problem (tongue firmly in cheek) – keep everyone poor and they can’t burn fuel.

The problem with the British population and the distribution of energy use is that the rich emit more than the poor. The problem of emissions lies significantly in the unconstrained habits of the wealthy, and businesses, not the decisions of the ordinary woman.

But over and above that, the key cause of British Carbon Dioxide emissions is not actually the behaviour of individual citizens, but the Energy companies who resist de-Carbonising the supply of power and fuel.

Well-meaning government and charity campaigns to urge the people to drive, fly, consume less have very little impact. What’s needed is an evolution of responsibility in the production and distribution of energy supplies.

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