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Behaviour Change For Sustainable Consumption

Journal of Consumer Policy

Wencke Gwozdz, Lucia A. Reisch, John Thøgersen


The Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2100 translates into a carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emission reduction from around 40 gigatons in 2020 to around 5 gigatons (Rockström et al.2017).As part of a long-term strategy to achieve this goal, technological innovations are necessary, but not sufficient.Another necessary element is changes in consumer and household behaviours, which cannot wait for the long term.In the EU, for example, households account for nearly 20% of total CO2 emissions (Eurostat 2017).Furthermore, there is a large variation in private households’ consumption patterns, which shows that demand-side interventions targeted at private households are indeed promising (Dubois et al.2019).The largest contributions to CO2 emissions from private households come from personal transport, thermal energy use, electricity consumption, and accommodation as well as consumption of food and consumer goods and services (Kalbar et al.2016; Steen-Olsen and Hertwich 2015).Private households can substantially reduce their CO2 emissions by adopting new or altering the use of in-home and transportation-related technologies or changing consumption patterns related to food and other consumer goods (Gardner and Stern 2008).

This special issue focuses on strategies to induce behaviour changes for sustainable consumption in private households and on key motivational and contextual prerequisites.The aim is to provide insights on instruments and prerequisites for radical behaviour changes, for which the included papers draw on a variety of theoretical and methodological angles and approaches.Content-wise, the papers focus on understanding motivational and contextual facilitators and impediments for changing both specific impactful behaviour and broader behaviour changes.The discussed policy interventions span from a broader policy framework for constraining over-consumption to behaviour-specific instruments to produce voluntary behaviour change (de-hassling and eco-labelling).


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