Behavioural insights

Motivating individual emissions cuts through communication

Authored by: David Ockwell , Saffron O’Neill , Lorraine Whitmarsh

Routledge Handbook of Climate Change and Society

Print publication date:  July  2010
Online publication date:  July  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415544764
eBook ISBN: 9780203876213
Adobe ISBN: 9781135998509


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In this chapter we combine insights from political science research on climate change policy with empirical and theoretical perspectives from social psychology to explore the role that communication might play in engaging the public in decarbonising their behaviour. We focus on UK examples, but lessons learnt in this context will have saliency in any democratic, liberal society. Encouraging individuals to decarbonise their behaviour is a vital part of achieving the transformation to a low carbon society. Direct emissions from individual private travel and domestic energy use accounts for over one-third of UK greenhouse gas emissions (DEFRA 2005), without even considering the role of individuals as consumers, as employees and as voting citizens.

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