Paul C Stern: Environmentally significant behaviour and how to change it


Published on

Environmentally significant behaviour and how to change it. Key note address to the Behaviour Change for Sustainability National Congress, 11th-12th October 2010, Sydney by Paul C Stern, Director of the Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change (CHDGC), National Research Council (US)

Published in: Technology, Business
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Paul C Stern: Environmentally significant behaviour and how to change it

  1. 1. Environmentally Significant Behaviour and How to Change it Paul C. Stern, Director, Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change National Research Council, USA Keynote Address to the National Congress on Behaviour Change for Sustainability Sydney, Australia 11 October 2010
  2. 2. The Policy Context: Waiting for Central Government <ul><li>Will the central government take the lead? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>USA and Australia situations </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What to do if it can’t or won’t? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal, organizational, community, and business initiatives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How can central government be moved? </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Which Behaviours Promote Sustainability? <ul><li>First: Avoid endless arguments over definitions of sustainability </li></ul><ul><li>My focus: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The environmental aspect of sustainability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the process of transition </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why transition is a useful focus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We can know which direction to go without knowing the end point </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The challenge is to get movement </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The goal is to change environmentally significant behaviour </li></ul>
  4. 4. What is Environmentally Significant Behaviour? <ul><li>Environmental activism (and oppositionism) </li></ul><ul><li>Support for (or opposition to) environmental movement/sustainability goals and policies </li></ul><ul><li>Household consumer behaviour: purchase, maintenance, use of goods and services) </li></ul><ul><li>Organizational behaviour (use of energy and materials, influences on suppliers, clients) </li></ul><ul><li>Community action (places, professions, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>All are important. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Where can action take place? <ul><li>Where you are (your home, organization) </li></ul><ul><li>At community level </li></ul><ul><li>Influencing government units </li></ul>
  6. 6. Why isn’t there more sustainable behaviour? EXPLANATION #1: Financial incentives (the case of energy use) <ul><li>“ You need to get the prices right.” </li></ul><ul><li>Financial incentives are important, but… </li></ul><ul><li>Price increases are a blunt instrument (can produce suffering instead of investment) </li></ul><ul><li>Positive financial incentives may be necessary to promote adoption of costly equipment </li></ul><ul><li>But the research shows they are not sufficient: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A persistent energy efficiency gap </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Incentives are often less effective than expected </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Their effects are highly variable (price elasticity does not have a fixed value) </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. A classic example--Results of offering almost-free home retrofits in the Bonneville Interim Weatherization Program, Oregon, USA, 1982 <ul><li>Utility Audits/home Weatherized/audit Weatherized/home </li></ul><ul><li>A 11.8 61.0 7.3 </li></ul><ul><li>B 14.2 82.9 11.8 </li></ul><ul><li>C 23.2 57.9 13.3 </li></ul><ul><li>D 23.1 83.4 19.3 </li></ul><ul><li>E 1.6 90.9 1.4 </li></ul><ul><li>F 12.1 83.7 10.2 </li></ul><ul><li>G 2.4 77.1 1.9 </li></ul><ul><li>Average 9.1 59.6 5.3 </li></ul><ul><li>Highest/lowest 14.5:1 1.6:1 13.8:1 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Units: % of eligible homes/yr of program </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Source: Lerman and Bronfman (1984) </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Lessons from Incentive Programs <ul><li>Non-financial factors explain a lot about why incentives have such weak and variable effects </li></ul><ul><li>Money is a major influence on adopting energy-efficient equipment. But other barriers are very important </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consumers rarely compare energy efficiency with other financial investments on an equal footing (true even of companies) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cost minimization is but one of many motives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cognitive effort is a major barrier to change </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inertia is a barrier to change (habit, routine, SOP) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Lessons: </li></ul><ul><li>Reducing non-financial barriers to action has great potential even with current incentives </li></ul><ul><li>These efforts are likely to do even more with stronger incentives </li></ul>
  9. 9. A strategy for increasing sustainable behaviour whatever the incentive struture <ul><li>Identify the target behaviours and actors </li></ul><ul><li>Identify the barriers to change </li></ul><ul><ul><li>--especially those you can affect </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Address the barriers </li></ul><ul><li>Engage the community </li></ul>
  10. 10. Identify high-impact target behaviours <ul><li>A behavioural analysis </li></ul><ul><li>I = tpn </li></ul><ul><li>I: Environmental impact </li></ul><ul><li>t: Technical potential (if all who could act did so) </li></ul><ul><li>p: Behavioral plasticity (proportion who could be induced to act) </li></ul><ul><li>n: Number of people who could act </li></ul><ul><li>Focus first on behaviors with high I </li></ul><ul><li>Then focus on increasing p </li></ul>
  11. 11. Picking target behaviours <ul><li>People are often mistaken about which behaviours have greatest impact </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Overemphasis on visible, frequent behaviuors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Underemphasis on equipment choice and maintenance </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Need for “short lists” of high-impact actions </li></ul><ul><li>Develop one for your target actors </li></ul><ul><li>BOTTOM LINE: Research the potential behavioural targets </li></ul>
  12. 12. Percentage of current total U.S. individual/ household energy consumption potentially saved, low-cost/no-cost actions (Source: Gardner and Stern, 2008) <ul><li>Energy saved (percent) for all individuals and households </li></ul><ul><li>Transportation </li></ul><ul><li>1. Carpool to work with one other person Up to 4.2 </li></ul><ul><li>2. Get frequent tune-ups, including air filterchanges 3.9 </li></ul><ul><li>3. Alter driving (avoid sudden acceleration and stops) Up to 3.2 </li></ul><ul><li>4. Combine errand trips to one-half current mileage Up to 2.7 </li></ul><ul><li>5. Cut highway speed from 70 to 60 mph Up to 2.4 </li></ul><ul><li>6. Maintain correct tire pressure 1.2 </li></ul><ul><li>Potential savings subtotal Up to 17.6 </li></ul><ul><li>Inside the home </li></ul><ul><li>1. Lighting: Replace 85 percent of all incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulb 4.0 </li></ul><ul><li>2. Space conditioning: Heat: Turn down thermostat from 72° F to 68° F </li></ul><ul><li>during the day and to 65° F at night; </li></ul><ul><li>A/C: Turn up thermostat from 73° F to 78° F 3.4 </li></ul><ul><li>3. Clothes washing: Use only warm (or cold) wash, cold rinse setting 1.2 </li></ul><ul><li>Potential savings subtotal 8.6 </li></ul><ul><li>Potential savings subtotal for nine actions listed Up to 26.2 </li></ul>
  13. 13. Percentage of current total U.S. individual/ household energy consumption potentially saved, longer-term, higher-cost actions (Source: Gardner and Stern, 2008) <ul><li>Energy saved (percent) for all individuals and households </li></ul><ul><li>Transportation </li></ul><ul><li>1. Buy low-rolling resistance tires 1.5 </li></ul><ul><li>2. Buy a more fuel-efficient automobile (30.7 vs. 20 mpg EPA </li></ul><ul><li>average-adjusted composite) 13.5 </li></ul><ul><li>Potential savings subtotal 15.0 </li></ul><ul><li>Inside the home </li></ul><ul><li>1. Space conditioning: Caulk/weather-strip home Up to 2.5 </li></ul><ul><li>2. Space conditioning: Install/upgrade attic insulation and ventilation Up to 7.0 </li></ul><ul><li>3. Space conditioning: Install more efficient heating unit (92 percent efficiency) 2.9 </li></ul><ul><li>4. Space conditioning: Install more efficient A/C unit (SEER 13 or EER 12 units) 2.2 </li></ul><ul><li>5. Refrigeration/freezing: Install a more efficient unit (replace older 19–21.4 </li></ul><ul><li>cubic foot top-freezer unit with a new Energy Star unit) 1.9 </li></ul><ul><li>6. Water heating: Install a more efficient water heater (EFS .7 unit) 1.5 </li></ul><ul><li>Potential savings subtotal 18.0 </li></ul>
  14. 14. Identifying nonfinancial barriers to change: household behaviours <ul><li>Motivation and beliefs (values, intentions, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>**External context (e.g., financial costs, interpersonal influences, physical difficulty, broad social and economic context) </li></ul><ul><li>Personal capabilities and constraints (e.g., knowledge, time, attention) </li></ul><ul><li>**Cognitive effort </li></ul><ul><li>Habit or routine </li></ul><ul><li>** Important and under-appreciated </li></ul>
  15. 15. Identifying nonfinancial barriers to change: organizational behaviours <ul><li>Leadership (leaders’ motives and beliefs) </li></ul><ul><li>Mission definition (“core activities”) </li></ul><ul><li>External context (e.g., financial costs, regulatory constraints, industry expectations, physical difficulty) </li></ul><ul><li>Capabilities of people and units) </li></ul><ul><li>Information and transaction costs </li></ul><ul><li>SOPs of organizational units (e.g., separate accounts, “hurdle rates”) </li></ul>
  16. 16. Which factors are most important? <ul><li>Single factors rarely account for behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>The most important influences are not the same for all behaviours </li></ul><ul><li>Finding the most important influences and barriers to change requires research </li></ul><ul><li>The strongest influences are often contextual </li></ul><ul><li>The most effective interventions are based on understanding the full range of causes for the target behaviour, and barriers to change </li></ul><ul><li>BOTTOM LINE: Research the target actors </li></ul>
  17. 17. Addressing the Barriers: A Strategy for Interventions with Households <ul><li>Understand behavior from the household’s perspective and do not presume motives or abilities </li></ul><ul><li>Recognize that household behavior is often constrained by factors beyond the household’s control (e.g., the practices of repair personnel, manufacturers, wholesalers) </li></ul><ul><li>Address multiple barriers to behavioural change </li></ul><ul><li>Tailor intervention to suit the target action </li></ul><ul><li>Combine influence techniques (information, marketing, financial incentives, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Monitor programs continually to be able to adjust them as needed </li></ul>
  18. 18. Design principles for effective household-targeted programs Source: Stern et al., Env. Sci. & Technol., 2010, 44, 4847-4848 <ul><li>Prioritize high-impact actions </li></ul><ul><li>Provide sufficient financial incentives </li></ul><ul><li>Strongly market the program </li></ul><ul><li>Provide valid information from credible sources at the points of decision </li></ul><ul><li>Keep it simple (few hurdles to jump) </li></ul><ul><li>Provide quality assurance (e.g., contractor certification, inspection) </li></ul>
  19. 19. Addressing the Barriers: Interventions with Organizations <ul><li>Understand behavior from the organization’s perspective and do not presume motives or abilities </li></ul><ul><li>Look for external constraints (e.g., regulatory constraints, expectations of suppliers, clients/customers) </li></ul><ul><li>Look for organizational factors (SOPs, accounting rules, split responsibilities) </li></ul><ul><li>Address multiple barriers to behavioural change </li></ul><ul><li>Tailor intervention to suit the target action </li></ul><ul><li>Combine influence techniques (information, marketing, financial incentives, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Monitor programs continually to be able to adjust them as needed </li></ul>
  20. 20. Design principles for organizational change programs (a guess) <ul><li>Prioritize high-impact actions </li></ul><ul><li>Provide valid, actionable information from credible sources (internal, peer organizations) </li></ul><ul><li>Identify new routines or accounting systems </li></ul><ul><li>Keep it simple (few hurdles to jump) </li></ul>
  21. 21. It’s not easy being green <ul><li>Policy facilitation is critical: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Overcoming cognitive burdens </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Providing quality assurance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Developing trustworthy information </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But one need not wait for the central government </li></ul>
  22. 22. Opportunities for other actors <ul><li>Reducing cognitive effort </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Develop short lists for target groups/organizations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Get credible information sources to offer information at points of action </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide services to offer and validate tailored information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduce burden of quality assurance </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Create new SOPs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Accounting systems in organizations </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Engaging communities <ul><li>Dialogues to develop short lists can disseminate credible information </li></ul><ul><li>Dialogues to identify barriers can generate pressure to reduce them </li></ul><ul><li>Dialogues across communities (units in an organization; organizations in an industry or agency; localities in a region) </li></ul><ul><li>Dialogues about fundamental change </li></ul>
  24. 24. Other important targets for behavioural change <ul><li>Indirect energy use (food, non-energy goods and services, green energy, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Behaviourally sensitive infrastructure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Human factors design of energy efficiency and information technology (smart meters, home equipment controls, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Design of low-energy buildings and communities for attractiveness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Developing user-friendly accounting systems (footprints, calculators, energy-cost of occupancy for homes) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Analysis of drivers of consumption, “lifestyle” </li></ul>
  25. 25. Changing lifestyles <ul><li>Changing behaviours one by one may not be enough </li></ul><ul><li>Lifestyles are patterns of behaviour (travel, eating, accumulation of possessions, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Change isn’t easy and needs support </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Infrastructure (public transit, bike lanes, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Labor issues (reducing need for “labor-saving devices”) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social norms (other people’s expectations) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Information (e.g., better footprint calculators) </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. How do we get support for changing lifestyles? <ul><li>Lifestyle change generally happens in communities (towns, workplaces, universities, etc.) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Changing norms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Supportive local policies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Possible role of community or national conversations </li></ul>
  27. 27. Thank you! <ul><li>I hope this will stimulate further discussion! </li></ul>
  28. 28. Some references, contact information <ul><li>P.C. Stern, Environmentally significant behavior in the home. Pp. 363-382 in A. Lewis, ed., The Cambridge Handbook of Psychology and Economic Behaviour, Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2008. </li></ul><ul><li>T. Dietz, G.T. Gardner, J. Gilligan, P.C. Stern, and M. Vandenbergh, Household actions can provide a behavioral wedge to rapidly reduce U.S. carbon emissions, in preparation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106:10452-10456. </li></ul><ul><li>P.C. Stern, G.T. Gardner, M.P. Vandenbergh, T. Dietz, and J. Gilligan. Design principles for carbon emissions reduction programs. Environmental Science & Technology , 2010, 44, 4847-4848. </li></ul><ul><li>G.T. Gardner and P.C. Stern, The short list: Most Effective Actions U.S. Households Can Take to Limit Climate Change. Environment , 2008, 50(5), 13-24. </li></ul><ul><li>G.T. Gardner and P.C. Stern, Environmental Problems and Human Behavior, 2 nd ed. Pearson Custom Publishing, 2002. </li></ul><ul><li>Contact: Paul C. Stern </li></ul><ul><li>National Research Council, Washington DC, USA </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>