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'Environmental Behaviour Change: incentives, 'nudge', and citizenship' Andrew Dobson (Keele University) University of Bath November 1st 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "'Environmental Behaviour Change: incentives, 'nudge', and citizenship' Andrew Dobson (Keele University) University of Bath November 1st 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 'Environmental Behaviour Change: incentives, 'nudge', and citizenship' Andrew Dobson (Keele University) University of Bath November 1st 2011


3 If everyone lived like the average European we would need THREE planets to live on ….

4 If everyone lived like the average American we would need FIVE planets to live on ….

5 The ecological footprint a way of thinking of the environmental impact of individual people, organisations, communities

6 Chris Jordan, American photographer, illustrating the ecological footprint … … what do you think this is?



9 depicts 2 million plastic bottles, the number used every five minutes in the USA




13 depicts 426,000 mobile phones - the number retired in the USA every day

14 So what do we need to do? London - New York return = 1.8 tonnes Sustainable CO2 budget: one tonne per person per year

15 So we need to reduce the size of our ecological footprint … … but how? 1. Fiscal incentives and disincentives 2. Nudge theory 3. Environmental citizenship

16 Fiscal incentives and disincentives - how do they work? Impose a fine or a charge, or offer a reward, and behaviour will change Buy a car - but which one? £500 p.a. car tax £0 p.a. car tax

17 Fiscal incentives/disincentives - two examples e.g. Londons congestion charge, Irish Republics Plastic bag environmental levy (2002) 36% reduction in congestion in centre of London 1 billion plastic bags removed from circulation

18 Four potential problems with fiscal dis/incentives 1. The direction of the political wind 3. Size of price and charge rises - political will? 4. One-eyed model of human motivation 2. Respond to fiscal prompt, not to reasons underlying it (no opportunity for social learning)

19 Nudge - what is it, and how does it work? (2008) Think about your favourite supermarket This is called choice architecture libertarian paternalism (pp.5-6)

20 Behaviour change options: 1. Legislation (can be expensive and inappropriate) 2. Incentives (depends on people making rational decisions) 3. Information (ditto)

21 Tools such as incentives and information are intended to change behaviour by changing minds. In contrast, approaches based on changing contexts - the environment within which we make decisions and respond to cues - have the potential to bring about significant changes in behaviour at relatively low cost. Shaping policy more closely around our inbuilt responses to the world offers a potentially powerful way to improve individual wellbeing and social welfare.

22 Assessing nudge … We want policy to be a) legitimate, and b) effective Can it be legitimate when we have participated in neither its design or its implementation - and when we may not even know its being done to us? Can it be effective on the scale required? e.g. can we nudged towards one tonne/person/year? Again, there is no social learning here - what happens when there are no stripes leading up to a roundabout?

23 Nudge/Fiscal (dis) incentives people are self- interested sceptical about social learning people are focused on the present Environmental citizenship people can be other-regarding people can learn people can think about the future and sometimes they actually do all these things

24 Sustainable Households: attitudes, resources and policy (SHARP) programme, Luleå University, Sweden C. Berglund and S. Matti (2006), Citizen and Consumer: the dual role of individuals in environmental policy, Environmental Politics, 15/4: 550-71 exploration of the interplay between peoples values and various policy tools, including green taxes and education postal survey of 4000 people in 4 Swedish counties, plus time diaries and interviews Findings: Fiscal prompts are highly relevant for the promotion of environmental sustainability But that people tend to ascribe far greater importance to the motivational values contained in the self-transcendence cluster (altruism) … than to the opposing values of self- enhancement (egoism)

25 Johanna Wolf (PhD candidate, UEA), Ecological citizenship and climate change: perceptions and action (Environmental Politics) case study of two coastal communities in British Columbia involving 86 interviews the responsibility described by participants resembles that giving rise to ecological citizenship this responsibility bears the characteristics of a civic duty owed non-reciprocally to those currently affected by climate change and to future generations this responsibility is conferred by virtue of participating in a Northern, developed society whose living standards have collective consequences for both human and non-human life elsewhere in the world and in the future

26 The crowding-out phenomenon … are citizen- and consumer-type motivations in conflict with one another at the level of policy design? monetary incentives can crowd out other sorts of motivation, often called intrinsic motivation example from old peoples care home once crowded out, the intrinsic motivation rarely returns when the monetary incentive is removed people were demoralised by the incentive structure - even de-moralised? NB key role of environmental champions

27 The question of sustainable behaviour cannot be reduced to a discussion of balancing carrots and sticks. The citizen that sorts her garbage or that prefers ecological goods will often do this because she is committed to ecological values and ends. The citizen may not, that is, act in sustainable ways solely out of economic or practical incentives: people sometimes choose to do good for other reasons than fear (of punishment or loss) or desire (for economic rewards and social status). People sometimes do good because they want to be virtuous. (Ludwig Beckman, Virtue, Sustainability and Liberal Values, 2001)

28 This is what moves the environmental citizen to action - not financial incentives or nudges: its a matter of justice …

29 So how do we change peoples environmental behaviour? by focussing on peoples self-interest and giving them financial incentives and disincentives? by changing the context in which peoples choices are made - choice architecture? by relying on peoples capacity to think of others, to think of the future, and to act in the name of justice? Discuss!

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