Mobility, food and housing: responsibility, individual consumption and demand-side policies in European deep decarbonisation pathways
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The Brundtland Commission report ‘Our Common Future’ highlighted that residents in high-income countries lead lifestyles incompatible with planetary boundaries. Three decades later, consumption-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have continued to increase. To achieve ‘well below 2°C’ and 1.5 °C goals, consumption-related emissions must be substantially reduced in the coming decades. This paper provides insights on how to pursue 1.5 °C pathways through changes in household consumption. It draws on original data gathered in the project ‘HOusehold Preferences for reducing greenhouse gas Emissions in four European High Income Countries’ (HOPE) to analyse policies targeting and affecting direct and indirect GHG emissions in three household consumption categories (mobility, housing and food) in four countries (France, Germany, Norway and Sweden) and four medium-sized cities. This paper demonstrates discrepancies and similarities between current governmental policy approaches in the four countries and household perceptions of consumption changes with respect to policy mechanisms, responsibilities and space for acting on mitigation. Current demand-side policy strategies rely heavily on instruments of self-governance and nudging behaviour. Whilst some of our data suggests that households broadly accept this, it also suggests that governments could more actively lead and steer demand-side mitigation via adjusting and supplementing a comprehensive list of 20 climate policy measures currently in place in one or more of the case countries. The paper concludes by suggesting areas for more effective policy change and household-level climate change mitigation to feed the next update of climate pledges under the Paris Agreement.
KeywordsHousehold energy use Behaviour Climate change mitigation Climate policy Energy consumption Governmentality
The HOPE project is supported by the following national funding bodies under the umbrella of the Joint Program Initiative (JPI) Climate, a pan-European intergovernmental research platform: the French National Research Agency (ANR-14-JCLI-0001-03), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (01UV1414A), the Research Council of Norway (244905/E10) and the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (214–2014-1717). Thanks to the people that contributed: household respondents; local, regional and national policymakers; and to the HOPE research team. Also, thanks to the reviewers for taking the time to provide constructive comments that helped us improved our article.
The HOPE project is supported by the following national funding bodies under the umbrella of the Joint Program Initiative (JPI) Climate, a pan-European intergovernmental research platform: the French National Research Agency (ANR-14-JCLI-0001-03), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (01UV1414A), the Research Council of Norway (244905/E10) and the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (214–2014-1717).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Ethical approval and consent to participate
All participants were given written information about the study objectives and modalities (points of assessment, length of questionnaires), data preparation and pseudonymised data storage, the expected amount of commitment, the voluntary nature of participation and their right to withdraw at any time. Furthermore, participants were informed verbally about the study purpose and procedures and were given the chance to ask questions. All participants provided written informed consent. All countries assure that data processing and storage is done in line with European and national data protection rules. Where necessary, the study procedures were approved by an ethical committee. In Norway, the Norwegian Center for Research Data approved the study (44003). In Germany, the Institutional Review Board of the Medical Faculty by the University of Heidelberg approved the study (S-611/2015). In Sweden, the study was approved by the Regional Ethical Review Board in Umeå (2015/357-31Ö). In France, the project needed to fullfil the obligations of the CNIL (Commission Nationale Informatique et Libertés), no specific ethical approval was necessary.
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