“Can Wales shape world climate policy? Trialling Personal Carbon Accounts – guiding social change to combat global warming”
By Martin Burgess of Aberystwyth University at the National Assembly for Wales,
On 16th January 2018 Martin Burgess of Aberystwyth University gave a talk on Can Wales shape world climate policy? Trialling Personal Carbon Accounts – guiding social change to combat global warming.
The talk covered the facts that Global warming is a so-called ‘wicked problem’ because of its remoteness from everyday lives and multidimensional complexity, continues unabated. It noted that causes of individual’s carbon dioxide pollution range more widely than simply housing choice or commuting length but depend more on how the home is used and heated or how the commute is undertaken. Many of these lifestyle attributes are largely based on modern cultural expectations, or more specifically on the individual’s perceptions of those cultural expectations (for example the need, or not, to take a shower every day).
Peterson noted that it is widely recognised that cultural change is necessary for successful energy transitions. Personal Carbon Accounts, a scheme which allocates the carbon content of fuel purchases to individuals by use of a plastic swipe card, is a behaviour change policy working via social and cultural modification to generate short and long term savings triggered through mental budgeting with minimal financial incentives. The talk indicated that this uses the same principles as the highly successful single-use bag levy, demonstrating that policies based on behaviour change principles can both work (usage down 71% in Wales) and be popular. The talk was followed by a number of questions and extensive discussion.