Consumers still need winning over on climate change

The IPPR's latest report reveals that Government, business and communities need to do more to encourage people to adopt a more low-carbon lifestyle.

Social trendsetters are not doing enough to reduce their carbon emissions, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research’s latest report into how the public thinks lower-carbon behaviour could be made mainstream. It found that “Now People,” as they are known, do “very little in response to communications and policies designed to promote behaviours and choices that will reduce emissions.”

Government, business, and environmental campaigners needed to adopt a new approach to climate change in order to win over “mainstream consumers”, added the report. Though the report cites several factors for why the climate change issue is not resonating with Now People, strong emphasis is placed on cost concerns, especially in light of the current economic crisis. For many, “cost is a more important consideration than environmental impact” when deciding what to purchase.

But the research also shows that cost can be a motivator to maintain a low-carbon lifestyle by pointing to the money saved when pursuing energy reduction measures. Interestingly, though, the report acknowledged that some Now People that save money on low-carbon measures would subsequently spend those savings on high-carbon behaviours. Additionally, many expressed concern that adopting small lower-carbon behaviours would have little impact if others continued high levels of emissions.

The report offers ten recommendations for communicating to Now People about the issue, reproduced below.

Released at the same time as the 17 major carbon emitting countries convene in the United States to iron out differences in the run-up to the Copenhagen negotiations, understanding personal behaviours will be valuable for reaching any post-conference emissions targets.

Our guest writer is Jessie Daniels, who recently completed a Master of International Affairs at Columbia University

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