Consumer Behavior Key to Reducing Emissions in the EU

24 October 2012: A study for the European Commission's Directorate-General for Climate Action developed by CE Delft, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research and LEI Wageningen indicates that behavioral changes can complement technological changes and can allow emission reduction targets to be reached more cost-effectively, particularly if carried out in the areas of transport, housing and food.

According to the European Commission, the study, which addressed 36 options for behavioral change that would cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, identified 11 that are particularly relevant and include shifting to a more healthy and balanced diet, eating less meat and dairy products, buying and using a smaller car or an electric car, teleworking, adjusting room temperature and optimizing ventilation.

Results evidence that the behavioral changes that could take place simultaneously have the potential to save emissions for up to about 600 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent a year in 2020. It amounts to one-quarter of the projected annual emissions from sectors not covered by the EU emissions trading system (EU-ETS). The savings potential is particularly high in the area of food. The study also indicates that long-term emission reduction potentials of behavioral change options not covered by the economic modelling developed in the context of the roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050. These potentials support the case that achieving emission reductions of 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050 is economically feasible. [European Commission Press Release] [Bahavioral Climate Change Options]