Climate Policies of the European Union
The European Union has set ambitious goals to reduce current greenhouse gas emissions. The target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% until 2050. To reach this goal, emissions have to be reduced by 50% compared to the base year 1990. As private households in high income countries are responsible for about 50% of emissions, households are increasingly being included in climate policies. Integration of private households in climate policies implies that henceforth the focus will be set on consumer behavior. In order to better regulate consumption, more information on consumer behavior and readiness to contribute to climate protection needs to be aquired.
Climate Policies on an Individual Level
HOPE stands for Household Preferences for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Four European High Income Countries. Meant are household behaviors in everyday life, e.g. the commute to work, grocery shopping or construction of living space.
In the course of our study, we will conduct household surveys in four European cities to investigate, how private households can make climate friendly decisions in their daily routine to facilitate reaching the climate targets implemented by the European Union. Aix-en-Provence (France), Bergen (Norway), Mannheim (Germany) and Umea (Sweden) will be investigated representatively. Further information on the selection of the cities can be found in the section Research Plan.
Our international HOPE project, funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research of Germany, aims to make predictions on efforts to climate protection made by private households. Furthermore, we want to be able to make predictions for political decision makers, which measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions receive most support from the urban population. Based on these insights, our research project will be concluded with a political recommendation of action and a demonstration of which financial, ecological or health incentives could promote climate protection.
Experience shows, that scientific findings are hard to be put into political practice. Therefore, one of the project’s subtasks is to found a “policy advisory board” (PAB). For this purpose we will invite decision-makers on municipal, state and federal level to actively accompany our research project. Further information on the policy advisory board can be found in the section PAB.
A pilot study conducted by our project partner TEC showed that around 50% of greenhouse gas emissions of high income European countries are produced by private households. Main sources of the emissions in everyday life are attributed to the following four domains:
- General consumption (e.g. electronic devices, clothing)
- Food (e.g. meat, vegetables)
- Transportation (e.g. use of a private car)
- Living Space (e.g. insulation of home, heating)
It is questionable whether these findings also apply to larger groups of participants and if they are valid transnationally across Europe. Therefore, it needs to be investigated:
- Which readiness households manifest and
- Which incentives on the political side are essential to promoting climate friendly behavior
The project is divided into three different research phases.
- Calculation of carbon footprint of private households
By means of surveys on consumer behavior or other aspects of the domains mentioned above, we calculate how high CO2 emissions are.
- Measures to reduce CO2 emissions
We offer a catalogue of around 60 measures, which can contribute to lowering the households impact on global warming (e.g. switch from private car to public transport or bicycle), to households. They will then be asked to create a ranking of their preferred measures
- Motivational analysis of households
In the third phase of the project, individual interviews will be conducted, to understand based on which reasons households made their decision
Further information on our approach can be found in the section Research Plan.