Author Archives: Sylvia Rowley

Behaviour change theory: an introduction

Why do we live in draughty houses, drive gas-guzzling cars, or throw plastic bottles in the rubbish bin?

As part of my research last year, I put together a summary of some of the key drivers of human behaviour that relate to sustainable living, drawing on a range of different disciplines from behavioural economics to sociology. This wasn’t published as part of our final policy report, so I’m going to post it here over the course of three blog posts. Read more

Sell-by dates, “slop buckets” and the energy bill

It’s been a busy week for green living policies and research this week. So here’s a round up of what’s been happening in case you missed it:

Top 10: green behaviour change resources

This is the first in a series of posts about some of the best resources we’ve come across on behaviour change and green living.

I’ve started with some of the reports and sites that are core to our understanding of behaviour change. But if these are old news, then hold on! We’ll have posts on more specific aspects of behaviour change soon, inlcuding sustainable communications, energy, water and waste. Read more

Climate science explained. In three pages.

What are scientists highly certain about when it comes to climate change and what’s less certain? What did the evaluations of ‘Climategate’ conclude? What will the likely effects of climate change be on agriculture, health?

To answer all these question succinctly in one place, Green Alliance’s associate Rebecca Willis has written a three-page summary of climate science. Written in conjunction with the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and drawing on sources such as the Committee on Climate Change, The Royal Society and the Met Office, it’s a really useful digest for anyone who needs the facts at their fingertips. Read more

What the biggest ever UK trials tell us about smart meters

The energy regulator Ofgem recently published the results of its long-awaited Energy Demand Reduction Project, investigating how much energy UK householders could save by using smart meters.

The report makes fascinating reading for anyone following the government’s £11.3 billion plans to bring ‘smart’ electricity and gas meters to every home. These meters are useful for several reasons, including enabling greater balancing of demand on the grid. But 40% of the business case for the national roll-out is that meters will help people reduce their energy use. What this report and analysis by the National Audit Office shows is that unless they are deployed intelligently, smart meters are not guaranteed to bring any energy savings at all. Read more

Green growth: an oxymoron or our best shot?

Last week Green Alliance hosted an excellent debate on the role of green growth in the economic recovery, chaired by Oliver Morton, energy and environment editor of The Economist. It explored the opportunities and the limits of green growth, and took a frank look at what the alternatives might be. (Not the fictional ‘business as usual’, Michael Jacobs was keen to emphasise) Read more

How can government incentivise collaborative consumption?

“Put your X-ray glasses on” says John Manoochehri, making two circles with his thumb and first fingers and holding them up to his eyes. “Imagine you can see through buildings. What percentage of all the products in that direction [he points randomly] do you think are being used right now?”

“mmm, One percent?” someone proffers. “Exactly!” he says.

Manoochehri is an advocate of the switch from owning products to using services. Ultimately, he argues, most people don’t want a washing machine or even a car – we want clean clothes and a comfortable journey to work. And we can get these outcomes in a much more resource-efficient way through hiring a service when we need it (e.g. renting a car from Streetcar when we want one) rather than owning a product all the time, he says. That way lots more people can use one product, and the manufacturer has an incentive to make it last. Read more

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