University of Cambridge

CSaP

The Centre for Science and Policy

DECC workshop on behaviour and energy efficiency


A dialogue between policy officials and academics on behaviour and energy efficiency: Behaviour change experts and officials responsible for policies to encourage increased energy efficiency met earlier this month in a workshop organised by CSaP for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The UK's targets for reducing carbon emissions are ambitious and a wide range of tools for emissions reduction merit consideration. The new administration has put considerable emphasis on the role of individuals and communities across a wide range of policy areas and DECC is embracing this approach to reduce domestic energy usage.


This workshop was intended therefore to kick-start a period of dialogue between officials and academics on behaviour and energy efficiency. It opened on the consensus that economic incentives alone are not sufficient to achieve the necessary greenhouse gas reductions; other more imaginative tools are required. A lively discourse on what had and had not worked in the past was expertly steered by Dr Philip Guildford into a detailed consideration of the theoretical basis upon which it would be possible to construct policies that aim to alter behaviour.

As is usual in CSaP workshops discussion took place under the Chatham House rule but feedback following the workshop was very encouraging. Nafees Meah the Head of Science at DECC said: "This well facilitated and helpful workshop was very timely as we develop proposals for the Government's flagship Green Deal. For DECC this is the start of an essential dialogue with the academic social science community to help develop practical policies that will deliver the changes that we want to see." Dr Tim Chatterton an ESRC Fellow seconded to DECC from the University of the West of England Bristol called the workshop "a very significant interdisciplinary event not just in bringing together policy makers and researchers but also in bringing together social scientists from different disciplines." He added: "This workshop was the highlight of my first six months in government!"