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Why is behaviour change a better bet than techno-optimism (good read)

Good read here, on why we must balance technological achievements with good policy, and address DEMAND not just improve SUPPLY when looking at energy and climate change issues.

Prof Lorraine Whitmarsh, Bath University, argues that when it comes to tackling climate breakdown, changing the behaviour of the world’s high consumers guarantees better results than just trusting to technology.

“Where progress has been made, this has largely been on energy supply (starting to shift from fossil fuels to renewables) but far less attention has been given to tackling demand – how we use energy and resources – and this directly relates to people’s lifestyles and values.

Making progress on demand requires engaging with people in both decision-making (about the future of society and climate policies) and in action (i.e. behaviour change). Indeed, two-thirds of emissions can be attributed to households (IPCC, 2023) and most measures needed to reach our carbon targets in the UK will require behaviour change by consumers (CCC, 2020). The scale of behaviour change is also startling: the average UK lifestyle carbon footprint must reduce from 8.5t to 2.5t CO2 by 2030 to stay within 1.5°C warming.

Impactful actions to achieve this include flying less, eating more plant-based foods, adopting electric vehicles and heat pumps, wasting less, and investing in sustainable funds. While some behaviour change involves adopting green technologies, some is about changing how (much) we consume.

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