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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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Personal Transport Choices

The transport sector is one of the major contributors to climate change. Personal transport also significantly contributes to local and regional air pollution with emission of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide. This chapter looks at the effects of different types of public policies influencing transport demand ranging from pricing measures, such as fuel taxes or financial incentives to buy “cleaner” vehicles, to car labelling or the provision of transport infrastructure. The main factors affecting car ownership, car use and car choice are analysed, as well as factors which encourage the use of public transport. The impact of the relative price of different means of transport on mode choice receives particular attention. The role of environmental “norms” on personal transport decisions is also considered, improving our understanding of how raising public awareness about the environmental effects of private car use can complement other policies.

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