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How to build a Net Zero society

Using behavioural insights to decarbonise home energy, transport, food, and material consumption
Other authors
Kristina Londakova, Izzy Brennan, Andrew Schein, Jake Reynolds, Ed Whincup, Edwin Chan, Marcos Pelenur, David Halpern
Decarbonisation Behavioural economics Climate change mitigation Emissions reduction Carbon emissions Behavioural insights United Kingdom
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How to build a Net Zero society 13.42 MB

Delivery of Net Zero depends on substantial social and behavioural change. Achieving such widespread changes in behaviour is one of the biggest public engagement, political and technical challenges of the Net Zero transition. But it’s also a huge opportunity, with climate scientists pointing out the massive carbon reductions afforded if we all just adopt a handful of changes in our lives.

However, many of the necessary behaviours are currently too expensive, too inconvenient, too unappealing or simply not the default or norm we are used to. Put simply, our economy, infrastructure, norms, and media environment are not well designed for those who wish to live sustainably, but without great personal effort or compromise (that is, almost everyone). This may be why some - politicians included - recoil from the idea of widespread ‘behaviour change’, either disavowing what they see as the necessary means (a nanny-state telling people what to do) and/or the ends (an abstemious existence, sacrificing modern conveniences).

In this report, the authors build on several years of research and dozens of BIT case studies to analyse the barriers and enablers to greener choices across domestic heat and power, transport, food, and material consumption. With this understanding, they present over 20 concrete policy recommendations, and dozens of ideas for businesses. The authors take a holistic, system-wide view, addressing the role of communications to inform consumer choice, but also upstream changes which radically alter the consumers’ choice environment at scale. One common thread throughout is that the public are surprisingly supportive of our suggestions – even on issues typically viewed as more contentious.

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