Author Archives: Sylvia Rowley

Reasons to be cheerful

virunga national parkUnlike most people working on environmental issues, I spend most of my time finding and telling good news stories. When not editing the Green Alliance blog, I work on earthrise, an environmental TV show on Al Jazeera English that features promising solutions to environmental problems.

While I think we need to be realistic about the scale of the challenge, evidence suggests that there’s no quicker way to turn off your audience (whether they’re sitting on a sofa or in parliament) than being a full time purveyor of bad news.

So to lighten up your Friday afternoon, I thought I’d give you three reasons to be cheerful, gleaned from my experiences on earthrise. Read more

Twitter list: top green economics tweeters

Hot on the heels of our recent list of green political tweeters, here’s one focusing on economics.

These are people to follow if you’re interested in the relationship between the economy and the environment – from green growth and sustainable investment to re-thinking consumerism.

This is a work in progress and suggestions are very welcome. I’ll be updating Green Alliance’s green economy list with your additions Read more

Twitter list: Top green politics tweeters

Filling your twitter feed with political commentators or green geeks is easy, but pinpointing people who combine the two can be trickier.

So, who should you follow for news, views and the inside scoop on how environmental issues are faring in the UK’s corridors of power?

 Here are some suggestions – additions welcome! Updated 01.08.12 – thanks for all the input Read more

Four top communications campaigns that DECC could learn from

Tucked away at the back of Green Alliance’s recent report Neither sermons nor silence are some great examples of how government communication can be done well.

The report argues that to get quick, widespread take up of consumer-facing energy policies such as the Green Deal, government needs to tell people about them. Otherwise its ambitious target for one UK home to upgrade its energy efficiency every minute for the next 40 years seems, well, a bit hopeful. This doesn’t mean preaching, but it does mean developing some strong messages and partnerships.

Here are four examples of how government-backed communications campaigns have played a vital role in encouraging the public to change their behaviour, from installing smoke alarms to binning fewer leftovers. DECC, take note. Read more

The British public still cares about the environment – and government has a mandate for action

This blog post is based on a paper What people really think about the environment: an analysis of public opinion, published today by Green Alliance.

We’re living with the effects of what’s been called the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Unemployment is rising, and so are the costs of basic necessities such as food and energy. In the face of these economic challenges, there’s a perception that the public no longer cares about climate change, or living more sustainably.

But is this really the case? Has Britain become a “nation of climate change sceptics”?

In short, the answer is no. Read more

Behaviour change theory: structural factors

This post looks at structural factors that affect our behaviour. It’s part of a series on behaviour change and sustainability, which includes an introduction to behavioural theory, a summary of some of the psychological traits that influence us, and a look at how social context can affect behaviour.

The structure of life
Our lives take place within certain structural and practical contexts. This can be defined narrowly as the ‘choice environment’, i.e. the immediate context in which we make decisions, or broadly as the whole material infrastructure within which our lives take place. Read more

Behaviour change theory: social factors

This post looks at social factors that affect our behaviour. It’s part of a series on behaviour change and sustainability, which includes an introduction to behavioural theory and a summary of some of the psychological traits that influence us.

Social creatures
As well as being influenced by our own psychological make-up, our behaviour is deeply influenced by social context. This is true both on a small scale, in terms of being affected by what others think and do, and on a large scale in terms of the norms and practices that dominate a society. Read more

Behaviour change theory: psychological factors

Following on from last week’s introductory post on behavioural theory, here’s a summary of some of the individual-level factors that influence whether people do green things or not.

Rational beings?
In standard neoclassical economics, people are seen as self-interested, rational beings who weigh up the costs and benefits of various actions, and proceed accordingly. While people do sometimes act rationally in their own self-interest, this model has been criticised for failing to take into account many of the psychological, social and contextual factors that also affect our behaviour.

Behavioural economists, for example, argue that we do many things automatically and are often guided by psychological and social biases. This approach forms the basis of the 2010 Institute for Government MINDSPACE report, and for the popular book Nudge, both of which have had some influence on the government’s response to the challenge of pro-environmental behaviour change. Read more

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