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The complex relationship between households’ climate change concerns and their water and energy mitigation behaviour


  • Nauges, Céline
  • Wheeler, Sarah Ann


Climate change will require commitment by all levels of the community, but there is still uncertainty surrounding the best way to influence individual mitigation behaviour. This study analyses household survey data on water and energy climate change mitigation behaviour from eleven OECD countries in 2011, and provides new evidence of a form of maladaptation, namely a complex rebound relationship between climate change attitudes and mitigation behaviour. First, results confirm other studies that climate change concerns and economic incentives (in terms of electricity and water charges) positively influence mitigation behaviour. Second, we find that the more costly, in terms of time and/or money, are the mitigation actions of a household, the more likely undertaking such actions directly lessens respondents’ climate change concerns. This negative rebound effect is more likely to occur in ‘environmentally-motivated’ households, who are more likely to have stated they believe human actions can help mitigate climate change. Conversely, economic incentives in driving energy and water pro-environmental behaviour work better in non-environmentallymotivated households. This highlights that a portfolio of policies is needed to drive mitigation behaviour.

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  • Nauges, Céline & Wheeler, Sarah Ann, 2015. "The complex relationship between households’ climate change concerns and their water and energy mitigation behaviour," TSE Working Papers 15-611, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Jul 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:29950

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    1. Binder, Martin & Blankenberg, Ann-Kathrin & Guardiola, Jorge, 2020. "Does it have to be a sacrifice? Different notions of the good life, pro-environmental behavior and their heterogeneous impact on well-being," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 167(C).
    2. Boto-García, David & Bucciol, Alessandro, 2020. "Climate change: Personal responsibility and energy saving," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 169(C).
    3. Farjam, Mike & Nikolaychuk, Olexandr & Bravo, Giangiacomo, 2019. "Experimental evidence of an environmental attitude-behavior gap in high-cost situations," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 1-1.
    4. Ariyawardana, Anoma & Lim-Camacho, Lilly & Crimp, Steven & Wellington, Michael & Somogyi, Simon, 2018. "Consumer Response to Climate Adaptation Strategies in the Food Sector: An Australian Scenario," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 383-393.
    5. Blankenberg, Ann-Kathrin & Alhusen, Harm, 2019. "On the determinants of pro-environmental behavior: A literature review and guide for the empirical economist," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 350, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    6. Belaïd, Fateh & Joumni, Haitham, 2020. "Behavioral attitudes towards energy saving: Empirical evidence from France," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 140(C).
    7. Schill, Marie & Godefroit-Winkel, Delphine & Diallo, Mbaye Fall & Barbarossa, Camilla, 2019. "Consumers’ intentions to purchase smart home objects: Do environmental issues matter?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 161(C), pages 176-185.

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    economic incentives; rebound effect; mitigation behaviour; climate change attitudes;

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