Mobility, food and housing: responsibility, individual consumption and demand-side policies in European deep decarbonisation pathways

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. 1.

    We use ‘government’ to refer to the concept in the theoretical sense, and ‘government’ to refer to the governing institutions of states.

  2. 2.

    Defined in Herrmann et al. (2017).

  3. 3.

    Consumption units are calculated based in the OECD equivalence scale to capture per capita emissions (OECD n.d.).

  4. 4.

    The interview recording has not been modified when put in writing. It is typical for speech situations that a sentence is abandoned before completing to start a new sentence. The ‘/’ after a sentence marks this kind of pause in speech behaviour.

  5. 5.

    Norway is obliged to adhere to EU directives and regulations through its membership in the European Economic Area (Utenriksdepartementet 2012).

  6. 6.

    This decision was made with the awareness that other, more abstract, typologies exist, e.g. Hood’s NATO scheme (see for example Knill and Tosun 2012, pp. 22–25; Lodge 2007, pp. 280–282).

References

  1. Aall, C. (2001). Local agenda 21 as means of interpreting and introducing the new policy issue of sustainable production and consumption – Experiences from seven Norwegian municipalities. In W. Lafferty (Ed.), Sustainable communities in Europe (pp. 82–100). London: Earthscan Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Aall, C., & Hille, J. (2010). Consumption – A missing dimension in climate policy. In R. Bhaskar, C. Frank, K. G. Høyer, P. Naess, & J. Parker (Eds.), Interdisciplinarity and climate change: Transforming knowledge and practice for our global future (pp. 85–100). London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Abrahamse, W., Steg, L., Vlek, C., & Rothengatter, T. (2005). A review of intervention studies aimed at household energy conservation. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 25(3), 273–291.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Asara, V., Otero, I., Demaria, F., & Corbera, E. (2015). Socially sustainable degrowth as a social-ecological transformation: Repoliticizing sustainability. Sustainability Science, 10(3), 375–384.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Asdal, K., Jacobsen, E. (2009). Forbrukerens ansvar. Oslo: Cappelen Damm Akademisk.

  6. Bacchi, C. L. (2010). Foucault, policy and rule: Challenging the problem-solving paradigm. Aalborg: Institut for Historie, Internationale Studier og Samfundsforhold, Aalborg Universitet. FREIA's tekstserie, No. 74, https://doi.org/10.5278/freia.33190049

  7. Bäckstrand, G., & Ingelstam, L. (2006). Enough! Global challenges and responsible lifestyles. Development Dialogue, 47, 97–147.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Bager, S., & Mundaca, L. (2017). Making ‘smart meters’ smarter? Insights from a Behavioural economics pilot field experiment in Copenhagen, Denmark. Energy Research & Social Science, 28(June), 68–76.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Berthoû, S. K. G. (2013). The everyday challenges of pro-environmental practices. The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies, 12(1), 53–68.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Berthou, S. K. G., & Ebbesen, B. V. (2016). Local governing of climate change in Denmark: Recasting citizens as consumers. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 59(3), 501–517.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Bows-Larkin, A. (2015). All adrift: Aviation, shipping, and climate change policy. Climate Policy, 15(6), 681–702.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Bryman, A. (2012). Social research methods (4th Ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  13. Chilvers, J., & Longhurst, N. (2016). Participation in transition(s): Reconceiving public engagements in energy transitions as co-produced, emergent and diverse. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 18(5), 585–607.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Daly, H. E. (1968). On economics as a life science. Journal of Political Economy, 76(3), 392–406.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Dauvergne, P. (2010). The problem of consumption. Global Environmental Politics, 10(2), 1–10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Dean, M. (2010). Governmentality: Power and rule in modern society. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Demaria, F., Schneider, F., Sekulova, F., & Martinez-Alier, J. (2013). What is degrowth? From an activist slogan to a social movement. Environmental Values, 22(2), 191–215.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Dietz, T., Gardner, G. T., Gilligan, J., Stern, P. C., & Vandenberghe, M. P. (2009). Household actions can provide a behavioral wedge to rapidly reduce US carbon emissions. PNAS, 106(44), 18452–18456.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Dubois, G., & Ceron, J. P. (2015). Consommation et modes de vie: Une autre perspective sur les politiques d’atténuation du changement climatique. Natures Sciences Sociétés, 23(supplément), S76–S90.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Ehrlich, P. R. & Holdren, J. P. (1971). Impact of population growth. Science, 171(3977), 1212–1217.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Faruqui, A., & Sergici, S. (2010). Household response to dynamic pricing of electricity: A survey of 15 experiments. Journal of Regulatory Economics, 38(2), 193–225.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Feindt, P. H., & Oels, A. (2005). Does discourse matter? Discourse analysis in environmental policy making. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 7(3), 161–173.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Foucault, M. (1991). Governmentality. In G. Burchell, C. Gordon, & P. Miller (Eds.), The Foucault effect: Studies in governmentality: With two lectures by and an interview with Michel Foucault (pp. 87–104). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Geels, F. W., Sovacool, B. K., Schwanen, T., & Sorrell, S. (2017). Sociotechnical transitions for deep decarbonisation. Science, 357(6357), 1242–1244.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Georgescu-Roegen, N. (1971). Energy and economic myths. New York: Pergannon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Haas, R., Eichhammer, W., Huber, C., Langniss, O., Lorenzoni, A., Madlener, R., Menanteau, P., Huber, C., Langniss, O., Lorenzoni, A., Madlener, R., Menanteau, P., Morthorst, P. E., Martins, A., Oniszk, A., Schleich, J., Smith, A., Vass, Z., & Verbruggen, A. (2004). How to promote renewable energy systems successfully and effectively. Energy Policy, 32(6), 833–839.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Herrmann, A., Fischer, H., Amelung, D., Litvine, D., Aall, C., Andersson, C., Baltruszewicz, M., Barbier, C., Bruyère, S., Bénévise, F., Dubois, G., Louis, V. R., Nilsson, M., Richardsen Moberg, K., Sköld, B., & Sauerborn, R. (2017). Household preferences for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in four European high-income countries: Does health information matter? A mixed-methods study protocol. BMC Public Health, 18(1), 71. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-017-4604-1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Hertwich, E. G., & Peters, G. P. (2009). Carbon footprint of nations: A global, trade-linked analysis. Environmental Science & Technology, 43(16), 6414–6420.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Higgins, W., & Hallström, K. T. (2007). Standardization, globalization and rationalities of government. Organization, 14(5), 685–704.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Howell, R. (2009). The experience of carbon rationing action groups: Implications for a personal carbon allowances policy. UK Energy Research Centre, demand reduction theme. University of Oxford. http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/research/energy/archive-carbon-rationing.html. Accessed 28 October 2017.

  31. Høyer, K. G. (2008). Sustainable development. In D. Brune, D. Chapman, M. O. Gwynne, & J. M. Pacyna (Eds.), The global environment: Science, technology and management (pp. 1185–1205). Weinheim: VCH Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Huntington, H., & Smith, E. (2011). Mitigating climate change through energy efficiency: An introduction and overview. The Energy Journal, 32(1), 1–6.

    Google Scholar 

  33. IEA (2012). World Energy Outlook 2012. OECD/IEA Paris: International Energy Agency.

  34. IEA (2017). Energy Technology Perspectives 2017: Catalysing Energy Technology Transformations. OECD/IEA. Paris: International Energy Agency.

  35. IPCC (2007). Climate change 2007: Mitigation. Contribution of working group III to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change [B. Metz, O. R. Davidson, P. R. Bosch, R. Dave, L. A. Meyer (eds.)]. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  36. IPCC (2014). Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [O. Edenhofer, R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J. C. Minx (eds.)]. Cambridge: University Press.

  37. IPCC (2017). Chapter outline of the working group III contribution to the IPCC sixth assessment report (AR6). Forty-sixth session of the IPCC, 6–10 September 2017. Montreal:. https://www.ipcc.ch/meetings/session46/AR6_WGIII_outlines_P46.pdf. Accessed 17. April 2018.

  38. Jackson, T. (2006). The Earthscan reader in sustainable consumption. London: Earthscan.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Keskitalo, E., Sirkku Juhola, C. H., & Westerhoff, L. (2012). Climate change as governmentality: Technologies of Government for adaptation in three European countries. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 55(4), 435–452.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Kivimaa, P., & Kern, F. (2016). Creative destruction or mere niche support? Innovation policy mixes for sustainability transitions. Research Policy, 45(1), 205–217.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Knill, C., Tosun, J. (2012). Public policy: A new introduction. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

  42. Kriegler, E., Luderer, G., Bauer, N., Baumstark, L., Fujimori, S., Popp, A., Rogelj, J., Strefler, J., & van Vuuren, D. P. (2018). Pathways limiting warming to 1.5°C: A tale of turning around in no time? Philosophical Transactions Royal Society A, 376, 20160457.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Kunreuther, H., & Weber, E. U. (2014). Aiding decision making to reduce the impacts of climate change. Journal of Consumer Policy, 37(3), 397–411.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Lodge, M. (2007). Comparative public policy. In F. Fischer, G. J. Miller, & M. S. Sidney (Eds.), Handbook of public policy analysis (pp. 273–288). Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Loiter, J. M., & Norberg-Bohm, V. (1999). Technology policy and renewable energy: Public roles in the development of new energy technologies. Energy Policy, 27(2), 85–97. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0301-4215(99)00013-0.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Maniates, M. F. (2001). Individualization: Plant a tree, buy a bike, save the world? Global Environmental Politics, 1(3), 31–52.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Meckling, J., Kelsey, N., Biber, E., & Zysman, J. (2015). Winning coalitions for climate policy. Science, 349, 1170–1171.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Mendonça, M., Jacobs, D., & Sovacool, B. K. (2009). Powering the green economy: The feed-in tariff handbook. London; Sterling, VA: Earthscan.

  49. Millar, R., Fuglestvedt, J., Friedlingstein, P., Rogelj, J., Grubb, M., Matthews, H. D., Skeie, R. B., Forster, P. M., Frame, D. J., & Allen, M. R. (2017). Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C. Nature Geoscience, 10, 741–747. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo3031.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Miller, P., & Rose, N. S. (1995). Production, identity, and Democracy. Theory and Society, 23(3), 427–467.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Miller, P., & Rose, N. S. (2008). Governing the present: Administering economic, social and personal life. Reprinted. Cambridge: Polity Press.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Mishan, E. J. (1977). The economic growth debate: An assessment. London: G. Allen & Unwin.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Mol, A. P. J., Spaargaren, G., & Sonnenfeld, D. A. (2009). Ecological modernisation: Three decades of policy, practice and theoretical reflection. In A. P. J. Mol, D. A. Sonnenfeld, & G. Spaargaren (Eds.), The ecological modernisation reader: Environmental reform in theory and practice (pp. 3–14). London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Mundaca, L., & Markandya, A. (2016). Assessing regional progress towards a ‘green energy economy. Applied Energy, 179(October), 1372–1394.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. OECD (2011). Climate change and tourism policies in OECD countries. OECD, UNEP. Paris: OECD, UNEP.

  56. OECD (n.d.). What are equivalence scales? OECD Project on Income Distribution and Poverty. http://www.oecd.org/eco/growth/OECD-Note-EquivalenceScales.pdf. Accessed 27 October 2017.

  57. Oels, A. (2005). Rendering climate change governable: From biopower to advanced liberal government? Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 7(3), 185–207.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Pichert, D., & Katsikopoulos, K. V. (2008). Green defaults: Information presentation and pro-environmental behaviour. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 28(1), 63–73.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Riahi, K., Kriegler, E., Johnson, N., Bertram, C., den Elzen, M., Eom, J., Schaeffer, M., Edmonds, J., Isaac, M., Krey, V., Longden, T., Luderer, G., Méjean, A., McCollum, D. L., Mima, S., Turton, H., van Vuuren, D. P., Wada, K., Bosetti, V., Capros, P., Criqui, P., Hamdi-Cherif, M., Kainuma, M., & Edenhofer, O. (2015). Locked into Copenhagen pledges? Implications of short-term emission targets for the cost and feasibility of long-term climate goals. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 90, 8–23.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Rogelj, J., Luderer, G., Pietzcker, R. C., Kriegler, E., Schaeffer, M., Krey, V., & Riahi, K. (2015). Energy system transformations for limiting end-of-century warming to below 1.5 °C. Nature Climate Change, 5(6), 519–527.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Rogelj, J., Popp, A., Calvin, K. V., Luderer, G., Emmerling, J., Gernaat, D., Fujimori, S., Strefler, J., Hasegawa, T., Marangoni, G., Krey, V., Kriegler, E., Riahi, K., van Vuuren, D. P., Doelman, J., Drouet, L., Edmonds, J., Fricko, O., Harmsen, M., Havlík, P., Humpenöder, F., Stehfest, E., & Tavoni, M. (2018). Scenarios towards limiting global mean temperature increase below 1.5 °C. Nature Climate Change, 8(4), 325–332.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Rogge, K. S., & Reichardt, K. (2016). Policy mixes for sustainability transitions: An extended concept and framework for analysis. Research Policy, 45, 1620–1635.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Rose, N. S., & Miller, P. (1992). Political power beyond the state: Problematics of government. The British Journal of Sociology, 43(2), 173–205.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Ruzzenenti, F., Bertoldi, P. (2017). Energy Conservation Policies in the Light of the Energetics of Evolution. In N. Labanca (Ed.), Complex Systems and Social Practices in Energy Transitions - Framing Energy Sustainability in the Time of Renewables (147–170). Switzerland: Springer Nature.

  65. Sachs, I., Kapp, K. W., Iglesias, E. V. (1972). Development and environment: Report and working papers of a panel of experts, Founex, Switzerland, June 4–12, 1971. Paris: Mouton.

  66. Sachs, I., Ceron, J. P., Godard, O., Hourcade, J. C., Théry, D., Vallet, G., & Vinaver, K. (1973). Suggestions pour un programme environnement/développement, étude effectuée pour le programme des nations unies pour l'environnement. Paris: CIRED.

    Google Scholar 

  67. Sanderson, B. M., O'Neill, B. C., & Tebaldi, C. (2016). What would it take to achieve the Paris temperature targets? Geophysical Reserch Letters, 43, 7133–7142.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Santarius, T., Walnum, H. J., & Aall, C. (2016). Rethinking climate and energy policies: New perspectives on the rebound phenomenon. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  69. Schleussner, C. F., Rogelj, J., Schaeffer, M., Lissner, T., Licker, R., Fischer, E. M., Knutti, R., Levermann, A., Frieler, K., & Hare, W. (2016). Science and policy characteristics of the Paris agreement temperature goal. Nature Climate Change, 6(9), 827–835.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Shove, E. (2010). Beyond the ABC: Climate change policy and theories of social change. Environment and Planning A, 42(6), 1273–1285.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (2005). It’s not my fault: Global warming and individual moral obligations. Advances in the Economics of Environmental Resources, 5, 285–307.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Smith, P., Davis, S. J., Creutzig, F., Fuss, S., Minx, J., Gabrielle, B., et al. (2015). Biophysical and economic limits to negative CO2 emissions. Nature Climate Change, 6(1), 42–50.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Sovacool, B. K. (2009). The importance of comprehensiveness in renewable electricity and energy-efficiency policy. Energy Policy, 37(4), 1529–1541. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2008.12.016.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Sovacool, B. K. (2016). How long will it take? Conceptualizing the temporal dynamics of energy transitions. Energy Research & Social Science, 13, 202–215.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Sovacool, B. K., Heffron, R. J., McCauley, D., & Goldthau, A. (2016). Energy decisions reframed as justice and ethical concerns. Nature Energy, 16024, 1–6.

    Google Scholar 

  76. Sovacool, B. K., Kivimaa, P., Hielscher, S., & Jenkins, K. (2017). Vulnerability and resistance in the United Kingdom’s smart meter transition. Energy Policy, 109, 767–781.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Stern, P. C., Janda, K. B., Brown, M. A., Steg, L., Vine, E. L., Lutzenhiser, L., Janda, K. B., Brown, M. A., Steg, L., Vine, E. L., & Lutzenhiser, L. (2016). Opportunities and insights for reducing fossil fuel consumption by households and organizations. Nature Energy, 1. https://doi.org/10.1038/nenergy.2016.43.

  78. The Economist (2003). A greener Bush. 13 February 2003, The Economist. http://www.economist.com/node/1576767. Accessed 27 October 2017.

  79. Treib, O., Bähr, H., & Falkner, G. (2007). Modes of governance: Towards a conceptual clarification. Journal of European Public Policy, 14(1), 1–20.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  80. Tvinnereim, E., Fløttum, K., Gjerstad, Ø., Johannesson, M. P., & Norbø, Å. D. (2017). Citizens’ preferences for tackling climate change. Quantitative and qualitative analyses of their freely formulated solutions. Global Environmental Change, 46, 34–41.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  81. UNECE. (2010). Catalysing change: The UNECE response to the climate countdown. United Nations (UN). Belley: Imprimerie Nouvelle Gonnet.

    Google Scholar 

  82. UNEP (2017). The Emissions Gap Report 2017. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Nairobi.

  83. UNFCCC (2015). Paris Agreement. United Nations. http://unfccc.int/files/essential_background/convention/application/pdf/english_paris_agreement.pdf>. Accessed 25 October 2017.

  84. UNFCCC (n.d.). NDC Registry (interim). United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). http://www4.unfccc.int/ndcregistry/Pages/Home.aspx. Accessed 19 October 2017.

  85. Utenriksdepartementet (2012). Utenfor og innenfor: Norges avtaler med EU (NOU 2012:2). Oslo: Utenriksdepartementet.

  86. Villadsen, K. 2010. Forord til den danske udgave. In M. Dean (Ed.), Governmentality. Magt og styring i det moderne samfund. Frederiksberg: Forlaget Sociologi.

  87. Voß, J., P., Newig, J., Kastens, B., Monstadt, J., & Nölting, B. (2007). Steering for sustainable development: A typology of problems and strategies with respect to ambivalence. Uncertainty and Distributed Power. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 9(3–4), 193–212.

  88. Walters, W. (2012). Governmentality: Critical encounters. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  89. WCED. (1987). Our Common Future, World Commission on Environment and Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  90. Weimer, D. L., Vining, A. R. (2016). Policy analysis (5th ed). Abingdon: Routledge.

  91. Wynes, S., & Nicholas, K. A. (2017). The climate mitigation gap: Education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions. Environmental Research Letters, 12, 1–9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  92. Xue, J., Walnum, H. J., Aall, C., & Næss, P. (2016). Two contrasting scenarios for a zero-emission future in a high-consumption society. Sustainability, 9. https://doi.org/10.3390/su9010020.

Download references

Acknowledgements

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.

Funding

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).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Karen R. Moberg.

Ethics declarations

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.

Electronic supplementary material

ESM 1

(XLSX 27 kb)

Appendices

Appendix 1

This paper does not make any attempts to give quantified estimates of the GHG reduction impact of existing demand-side climate policies, nor make assumptions about the impact policies have on climate mitigation in terms of quantified GHG-emission reductions as this would be beyond the scope of our research. Neither existing mitigation policies nor the NDCs would keep emissions on track with an emission pathway compatible with the 1.5 °C goal (Millar et al. 2017; Rogelj et al. 2015; Schleussner et al. 2016; UNEP 2017, p. 14). The full potential of demand-side mitigation is not being taken advantage of. This is made apparent by several factors: (1) the current emission gap, (2) research demonstrating that increased demand-side mitigation is necessary to close the emission gap (Dietz et al. 2009) and (3) the uncertainty about voluntary mitigation occurring without stronger political interference (Berthoû 2013; Asdal and Jacobsen 2009; Miller and Rose 1995; Howell 2009). Our research has therefore focused on identifying existing space in demand-side mitigation policies as this provides an opportunity for policymakers to put in place incremental policy changes that can take advantage of the mitigation potential in targeting household consumption. To this end, it is necessary to consider whether there is a match between the roles of responsibility implicit in the policies and the readiness of the policy target (in our case, households) to take on such responsibility for mitigation action. By focusing on the implicit or explicit role of responsibility inherent in each policy approach, we are then able to highlight the subjectification effect of consumption-oriented policies for the discretion and agency of governed subjects (households), as outlined above.

The research method used for household data collection in the HOPE project has been elaborated elsewhere (Herrmann et al. 2017), but a few key attributes deserve more explicit mentioning. We have three sources of household data: mapping of household-related carbon footprints, the output from a household simulation game and interviews with households. In addition, we have mapped current household-related climate policy measures.

Three-hundred-nine households in four mid-sized European cities—Communauté du Aix-en-Provence, France; Mannheim, Germany; Bergen, Norway; and Umeå, Sweden—participated in the study. Three interactions provided information on household behaviour in the following areas: food, housing, mobility and other consumption. Interaction 1 calculated households’ carbon footprints (Herrmann et al. 2017, pp. 3–4). Interaction 2 was a simulation game with the goal to reduce household GHG emissions by 50% until 2030, in order to represent the idea of ambitious near-term demand-side mitigation compatible with 1.5 °C pathways (Sanderson et al. 2016; Rogelj et al. 2015). Households were first asked to reduce their GHG emissions voluntarily by 50%. If they failed to reduce sufficiently in the ‘voluntary’ scenario, households were asked to imagine they were ‘forced’ to reduce their emissions by 50%. For interaction 3, in-depth interviews were conducted with a subsample of households using an interview guide (Herrmann et al. 2017, p. 7). This paper uses a small part of the interview data, analysing interviewees’ answers to the following question: ‘Who do you consider responsible for climate mitigation?’ The interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatimFootnote 4 and subjected to a qualitative content analysis where emerging themes were identified in the data (Bryman 2012). Fifty statements relating to this question were analysed. The results are presented along with quotes illustrating the themes resulting from the qualitative content analysis.

The results from the household study were contrasted with results from a policy mapping. For this paper, ‘policy’ includes only the tangible output of political processes (Knill and Tosun 2012; Treib et al. 2007), such as strategy documents and legislative acts by public bodies, thus excluding voluntary initiatives by private entities or persons. The policy mapping identified any policy that affects household GHG emissions either directly or indirectly. The scope of our analysis is limited to ‘demand-side’ policies, including policies that might directly affect demand for goods or services. We have excluded supply-side policies (i.e. regulations to reduce GHG emissions from production and minimum energy efficiency standards as these target the producer, and not the consumer) unless they fall into a grey-area (i.e. city planning for mobility or fuel mix regulations). Policy data was gathered through the Odyssee-Mure database, official reports to international organisations and government databases from the national, regional and local levels of government. EU policies were assumed implemented at subsidiary levels of government and therefore not mapped separately.Footnote 5

Our database includes 250 policies. They were coded along the dimensions shown in Table 1, and every policy was summarised in a separate policy sheet (Table 3).

Table 3 Policy coding scheme

Appendix 3 offers a breakdown of the policies for analytical purposes and to create an overview of the consumption categories addressed by policies as well as the logic these policies use. The ‘technologies of government’ were identified and coded in the categories ‘policy instrument’. The objective of the coding was to identify the strategies and practices employed to achieve a stated policy objective. Keeping in line with the IPCC’s policy categories, policies were coded according to the policy categories used in the Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC 2014, pp. 239–241)Footnote 6: Economic Instruments, Information Policies, Public Goods and Services and Regulatory Approaches. International agreements or agreements between local governing bodies were counted if they resulted in tangible policies that affect private households as defined above. Policies that combine for example regulations and subsidies were counted twice, once per policy category.

After coding the policies, a generalised typology of rationalities was used to assess and analyse the logics and rationalities of government across the four country cases and between the different consumption sectors (outlined in Table 2). The IPCC’s policy categories can be integrated with the rationalities of government (Table 2). We would expect that market-oriented governance largely operates through policy instruments belonging to ‘Information Policies’ or ‘Economic Instruments’, and command-and-control governance generally uses either ‘Regulatory Approaches’ or ‘Public Goods and Services’. We summarised the policy results in tables in Appendix 3 by adding the number of policy measures in each category and showing the relative distribution of these across the policy categories. These figures must be used with great caution since individual policies have varying impact on GHG reductions, and they are for our purposes only meant to serve as indications of the broader policy approach ().

Table 4 Governmentality framework

Appendix 2

Table 5 Median carbon footprint before, during and after the simulation game measured in kg CO2e per year and CU by sector

Appendix 3

Table 6 IPCC-policy category breakdown by consumption category for each country
Table 7 Consumption subsector breakdown of policies per consumption category for each country
Table 8 Targeted household behaviour change per country (efficiency, reduction, substitution)
Table 9 Targeted household behaviour change per consumption subsector (efficiency, reduction, substitution)
Table 10 IPCC policy categories broken down for each consumption subsector

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Moberg, K.R., Aall, C., Dorner, F. et al. Mobility, food and housing: responsibility, individual consumption and demand-side policies in European deep decarbonisation pathways. Energy Efficiency 12, 497–519 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12053-018-9708-7

Download citation

Keywords

  • Household energy use
  • Behaviour
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Climate policy
  • Energy consumption
  • Governmentality