Changes in consumer behaviour can lead to major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union, particularly in the areas of transport, housing and food. This has been confirmed by a study for the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action conducted by the research organisations CE Delft, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research and LEI Wageningen. Behavioural changes can complement technological changes and can allow emission reduction targets to be achieved more cost-effectively overall.
See press release of the European Commission.
The study identifies 36 options for behavioural change that would cut greenhouse gas emissions. Of these, 11 particularly relevant options have been studied in detail. They 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 optimising ventilation.
For each of the behavioural changes studied in depth, emission reduction potentials have been quantified for 2020, 2030 and 2050. The study identifies barriers to implementing the changes, and quantifies the likely effects of policy packages which could overcome these barriers.
The results show that the behavioural changes that could take place simultaneously have the potential to save emissions totalling up to about 600 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent a year in 2020. This is about one-quarter of the projected annual emissions from sectors not covered by the EU emissions trading system. The savings potential is particularly high in the area of food.