Behaviour change as a driver for mitigating climate change: wins substantially offset by losses

Behaviour change as a driver for climate change mitigation has both merits and limits, according to this study.

Article explores offsets and reinforcements according to table 1 in the article: (quoted).

Rebounds (financial resources) Spillovers (moral resources) Time-use rebounds (temporal resources)
Offsets the initial energy savings Positive rebound
(e.g. if cycling is less expensive than car travel, more money is available to spend on a long-distance vacation)
Negative spillover
(e.g. if cycling is less carbon intensive than car travel, this may ‘licence’ a decision to take a long-distance vacation)
Positive time-use rebound
(e.g. if cycling takes less time than car travel, more time is available to spend watching television)
Reinforces the initial energy savings Negative rebound
(e.g. if cycling is more expensive than car travel, less money is available to spend on an long-distance vacation)
Positive spillover
(e.g. if cycling is less carbon intensive than car travel, this may reinforce a personal commitment to avoid long-distance vacations)
Negative time-use rebound
(e.g. if cycling takes more time than car travel, less time is available to spend watching television)

 

Quote from the abstract: “[This paper] concludes that: first, rebound effects can erode a significant proportion of the anticipated energy and emission savings from sufficiency actions; second, that such actions appear to have a very limited influence on aggregate energy use and emissions; and third, that downshifting should reduce energy use and emissions, but by proportionately less than the reduction in working hours and income.”