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Greening Household Behaviour

The Role of Public Policy

image of Greening Household Behaviour

Developing growth strategies that promote greener lifestyles requires a good understanding of what factors affect people’s behaviour towards the environment. Recent OECD work based on periodic surveys of more than 10 000 households across a number of countries and areas represents a breakthrough by providing a common framework to collect unique empirical evidence for better policy design.

This publication presents responses from the most recent round of the OECD survey implemented in 2011 in 5 areas (energy, food, transport, waste and water) and 11 countries: Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Israel, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Analysis comparing the data across countries, policy conditions and households’ characteristics reveals which measures most effectively change behaviour. Each round of the survey also allows to track changes over time and to explore new emerging issues.  

The new survey confirms the importance of providing the right economic incentives for influencing our decisions. The findings indicate that “soft” measures such as labelling and public information campaigns also have a significant complementary role to play. Spurring desirable behaviour change requires a mix of these instruments. 

This book is a milestone for all those interested by the challenging question of ways to promote greener behaviour, from policy makers to individual citizens.  

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Conclusions and Policy Implications

This concluding chapter presents important general cross-cutting policy lessons emerging from this survey on the design of demandside measures and how to increase their impact at the individual or household level. It also summarises the main findings in the five areas examined: water use, energy use, personal transport choices, organic food consumption, and waste generation and recycling. The chapter draws policy implications on how to best choose and combine instruments to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of policies targeting the greening of household behaviour. It also shows the way forward with the implementation of a new round of the survey in 2011.

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