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Seb Kennedy's picture
Founding Editor Energy Flux newsletter

I am professional energy journalist, writer and editor who has been chronicling the renewables and fossil fuel energy sectors since 2008.  I am passionate about the energy transition, so much so...

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  • May 5, 2021

Energy investors are often told that solving the climate crisis must be balanced with the equally pressing need to lift people out of poverty. They are also banking on clean technologies to fix wasteful consumption habits. In the first of a two-part series, Energy Flux examines behavioural change, the elephant in the room of the climate debate, and asks whether the ‘technology will save us’ mantra is one that investors need to hear.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 5, 2021

If the richest 10% of society were to bring their emissions in line with European average and the remaining 90% made no adjustments to their lifestyles, then global emissions would drop by one-third within a couple of years, according to a report by the Cambridge Sustainability Commission on Scaling Behaviour Change.

I find this point at the same time amazing and almost hopeful, while also being distressing because I know deep down that the behavioral change (especially among the more affluent emitters) is such a great challenge-- as you note throughout this piece. Humans and our decisions are the weak point in decarbonization efforts-- that's why market mechanisms, regulations, and incentives are such critical tools to take that agency out of the hands of those who will forget, ignore, or dismiss the way their actions are contributing. 

Seb Kennedy's picture
Seb Kennedy on May 5, 2021

Thanks Matt. Yes, the scope is absolutely enormous for demand-side emissions savings. This is something I'm looking into further, so if Energy Central members can point me towards interesting case studies or research in the area of behavioural change and energy consumption, I would welcome any suggestions.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 5, 2021

Indeed I'd be interested to learn more-- perhaps you might consider sharing a question on the topic to our Q&A section to really kick off that conversation!

Roger Arnold's picture
Roger Arnold on May 7, 2021

OMG, Seb! You dared to touch the 3rd rail issue for the green industrial complex. Now you're in for it!

Or maybe not. "Behavior change" is a comfortably general term. Not so likely to trigger automatic weapons fire from the defenders of consumer capitalism. Even though what you're writing about really is a sapper attack undermining Our Way of Life. Well, good luck to you. FWIW, I agree with you.

Seb Kennedy's picture
Seb Kennedy on May 12, 2021

Thanks Roger. You are right, questioning consumerism and energy/resource consumption habits has implications for the clean/renewable energy industry as well as fossil fuels. If we weren't so profligate in our energy habits, how many fewer batteries/wind turbines/solar panels might be needed decarbonise industrialised economies?

Seb Kennedy's picture
Thank Seb for the Post!
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