If the European Union wishes to increasingly counteract climate change, it is indispensable to determine, which regulation instruments (e.g. certificates, environmental taxes, recycling programs) are most suitable, and which readiness there is on behalf of the public. Thus, the HOPE project has the objective of investigating the public willingness to act more climate friendly and to live the lifestyle connected thereto.
Preceding studies have come to strongly deviating results. In their study on the issue of “Greening Households”, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) concluded, that environmental consciousness is the decisive factor and is directly linked to the household income. On the contrary, our project partner Vestlandsforsking found, that members of environmental protection organizations undeniably led a climate friendly everyday life, but neglected their carbon footprint in their free time (e.g. travel by plane).
The objective of the study is to investigate the readiness of the population to lead a more climate friendly life. To achieve this, a large number of private households are to be questioned on their preferences of measures to mitigate emissions. Further, the motives for the selection of these measures (e.g. reduction of meat consumption) are to be examined. Therefore, the consortium has decided to apply a combined design of quantitative and qualitative methods. The intensity will be determined by means of household surveys. In a second phase, the decision making process in individual cases will be closely studied with qualitative interviews.
The illustration demonstrates our assumption, that in the future, consumption behavior of private households will be guided by politics. In order to develop realistic scenarios, a political consulting board will support us by informing us on existing as well as planned regulations. Further information on the public advisory board can be found in the section PAB.
A Comparative Study
As the European Union has set very ambitious targets for climate policies, we chose to aim for a country-to-country comparison in our study. Investigating on a municipal level offers the exceptional possibility to examine a broad and authentic population as well as conducting in-depth qualitative interviews. The study locations Aix-en-Provence, Bergen, Mannheim and Umea were chosen based on a similar socio-economic status in the respective countries. Secondly, we selected cities which are considered environmentally conscious and implement intricate climate policies. Discrepancies between the local climate and the economic characteristics (industrial or tourism sector) of the cities have to be considered in regard of the formulation of climate policies.
The term “private household” encompasses many different lifestyles (e.g. married couples with or without children, unmarried couples, flat sharing). The number of persons living in a household is not defined. The household can be comprised of at least one person up to any number of persons. The household sample will be drawn from administrative population registers.
In the first establishment of contact, we will invite the selected households to participate in our study. The project partner TEC developed an online tool, which will be used in the first phase of the study. It enables households to enter a range of data, helping us to estimate the individual carbon footprint of a household. This data includes structural features, for instance the number of persons in the household or the average income, as well as the consumer behavior, such as the weekly meat consumption or use of a private vehicle.
Shortly, a FAQ page will be published informing you on privacy. Data will be anonymized and be used exclusively for research purposes. It will not be possible to identify households in scientific publications. Private data is available only to the project management and will solely be used to contact households in the course of the study. Every participant will receive extensive information on privacy before the acquisition of data. The transmission of data to any third party is prohibited.
Carbon Footprint of Private Households
The emission factors were excerpted from public data banks (e.g. ADME for Aix-en-Provence). Should individual emission factors not be available, a similar consumer good will be employed. If emission values should vary strongly between national data banks, the data will be averaged to achieve a realistic estimation. With the acquired data, participating households will receive a catalogue of about 60 measures, which could lead to a mitigation of emissions. Each selection would lower the initially estimated carbon footprint of a household.
Preferences of Private Households
Participants will be asked to evaluate each measure. Each measure will indicate an ecological (in CO2 e/kg), economic (in Euro or Norwegian Krone respectively) and health (in days of gained life expectancy, DALY) benefits, which could be reached by application of those measures. If a measure is designated as applicable, the dimension which led to the willingness to apply it has to be stated. On this basis, we calculate the readiness of participants to lead a low emission lifestyle, and which incentives were of importance, for each study location. The objective is to reach an emission reduction of at least 30% in total. Subsequently, households will be asked to consider further measures, in order to reach a reduction of at least 50%. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding statistical methods.
Decision Making in Private Households
In each of the four study locations, a small sample of households will be drawn from the pool of the investigated population, in order to qualitatively examine their motivations for the decision making. The goal is to understand why households made a particular decision, e.g. by further investigating which financial aspects were of importance. Our approach will be methodically semi-structured. Households will be questioned on the preferred and rejected measures respectively. By leaving the answer possibilities fairly open, we want to enable participants to depict their perceptions and opinions freely.
The initial inquisition will take place in a survey form, which will be performed online. The survey will be accessible by an internet link, enabling participants to set up an account. This way, participants will have the freedom to log in and answer the questions or change the answers at any time of the day. Upon completion of the questionnaire, the data will be transmitted to a central data bank. On this basis, the carbon footprint of the household will be determined. In each city technical support will be established to assist with the completion of the online interface.
The catalogue of measures will be sent to the participating households in time for the first visit. On this occasion, the catalogue will be discussed and the household will be informed about their individual carbon footprint. Participating households will be asked to name a representative of the household. This person will then be contacted by a trained interviewer and asked to discuss the proposed measures personally. The selection of measures will be computer assisted by means of notebooks or tablets. Answers will be saved in the central data bank.