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

Druckman, A, Chitnis, M, Sorrell, S and Jackson, T (2012) Missing carbon reductions? Exploring rebound and backfire effects in UK households Energy Policy, 49. 778 - 778. ISSN 0301-4215

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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 there bound 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 motorfuels. 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 there bound 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.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Energy Policy. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Energy Policy, 39(6), June 2011, DOI 10.1016/j.enpol.2011.03.058.
Divisions: Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences > Centre for Environmental Strategy
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2011 10:59
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2013 18:56
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/47147

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