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Missing carbon reductions? Exploring rebound and backfire effects in UK households

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Author Info

  • Druckman, Angela
  • Chitnis, Mona
  • Sorrell, Steve
  • Jackson, Tim

Abstract

Households are expected to play a pivotal role in reducing the UK's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the UK Government is encouraging specific household actions to help meet its targets. However, due to the rebound effect, only a portion of the GHG emission reductions estimated by simple engineering calculations are generally achieved in practice. For example, replacing short car journeys by walking or cycling reduces consumption of motor fuels. But this frees up money that may be spent on, for example, purchasing extra clothes or flying on vacation. Alternatively, the money may be put into savings. Since all of these options lead to GHG emissions, total GHG savings may be less than anticipated. Indeed, in some instances, emissions may increase--a phenomenon known as 'backfire'. We estimate that the rebound effect for a combination of three abatement actions by UK households is approximately 34%. Targeting re-spending on goods and services with a low GHG intensity reduces this to a minimum of around 12%, while re-spending on goods and services with a high GHG intensity leads to backfire. Our study highlights the importance of shifting consumption to lower GHG intensive categories and investing in low carbon investments.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

Volume (Year): 39 (2011)
Issue (Month): 6 (June)
Pages: 3572-3581

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Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:39:y:2011:i:6:p:3572-3581

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

Related research

Keywords: Rebound effect Sustainable consumption Household savings;

References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Duarte, Rosa & Mainar, Alfredo & Sánchez-Chóliz, Julio, 2013. "The role of consumption patterns, demand and technological factors on the recent evolution of CO2 emissions in a group of advanced economies," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 1-13.
  2. Costolanski, Peter & Elahi, Raihan & Iimi, Atsushi & Kitchlu, Rahul, 2013. "Impact evaluation of free-of-charge CFL bulb distribution in Ethiopia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6383, The World Bank.
  3. Panzone, Luca A. & Wossink, Ada & Southerton, Dale, 2013. "The design of an environmental index of sustainable food consumption: A pilot study using supermarket data," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 44-55.
  4. Stephan B. Bruns & Christian Gross, 2012. "Can Declining Energy Intensity Mitigate Climate Change? Decomposition and Meta-Regression Results," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2012-11, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
  5. Antal, Miklós & van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2014. "Re-spending rebound: A macro-level assessment for OECD countries and emerging economies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 585-590.
  6. Murray, Cameron K, 2011. "Income dependent direct and indirect rebound effects from ’green’ consumption choices in Australia," MPRA Paper 34973, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Turner, Karen, 2012. "'Rebound' effects from increased energy efficiency: a time to pause and reflect," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2012-15, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
  8. van Dam, S.S. & Bakker, C.A. & Buiter, J.C., 2013. "Do home energy management systems make sense? Assessing their overall lifecycle impact," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 398-407.
  9. Patrizio Lecca & Peter McGregor & J. Kim Swales & Karen Turner, 2013. "The added value from a general equilibrium analyses of increased efficiency in household energy use," Working Papers 1308, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
  10. repec:ese:iserwp:2013-21 is not listed on IDEAS

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