OECD Report Investigates Role of Policy in Greening Behavior

7 March 2011: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has released a report titled “Greening Household Behaviour: The Role of Public Policy,” that presents the results of a 10,000 household survey carried out in ten countries.

The report offers insights into what policy measures really work, where and why, by exploring factors affecting people's behavior in five areas: water use, energy use, personal transport choices, organic food consumption, and waste generation and recycling. The countries surveyed were: Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

On energy, the report notes that globally, households consume approximately 30% of energy production and are responsible for 20% of global carbon emissions. It found that charging for electricity encourages energy conservation, and purchases of energy-efficient appliances. It was also observed that while owners are inclined to invest in energy-efficiency measures such as better insulation, tenants are not.

On waste and recycling, the report notes that in many countries, households are responsible for 75% of municipal waste. The study found that in all countries, young people generate 10% more garbage than their parents, and small households twice as much per person as larger ones. It finds that charging by volume collected encourages less waste production than charging by weight.

On personal transport, the study indicates that carbon dioxide emissions from transport are expected to double by 2050. The report finds that in most countries, people would use public transport if it were faster.

The study also contains statistical data. For example, it shows that Mexicans, followed by the Dutch, French and Italians are most likely to conserve energy by consciously reducing light, heat and energy consumption. It found that nearly 80% of Czech and Italian households have installed energy-efficient appliances in the past ten years, compared to 30% in the Republic of Korea and 40% in Sweden. [Publication: Greening Household Behaviour: The Role of Public Policy]