When Energy Savings Backfire, Emissions Increase
Lloyd has explored the Jevons Paradox before, namely the idea that improvements in energy efficiency don't always result in energy savings—as lower running costs lead to increased use. Meanwhile the folks at Rocky Mountain Institute have outlined ways that we can beat the energy efficiency paradox, and that the effect may be overstated anyway. Now The Guardian reports on a new study that explores how some energy saving measures don't result in as much benefit as they should, as money saved on food waste becomes a meal out on the weekend, and suggests that the real take-away here is that we should not focus on individual actions, but the big picture, if we are going to deliver genuine carbon cuts:
Although the authors are cautious in drawing their conclusions, the research has an obvious implication - there is no point focusing obsessively on single behavioural changes if subsequent actions undo the carbon savings initially achieved. Current government strategy is to nudge people into specific behavioural changes - but much more effective would be to engage with people at a deeper level, focusing on their personal values and social identities , which impact on a range of behaviours. People can be nudged into making a specific change, but to adopt a low-carbon lifestyle, they need to think about it for themselves.