Knowledge, agency and collective action as barriers to energy-saving behaviour

Cotton, Debby, Miller, Wendy, Winter, Jennie, Bailey, Ian and Sterling, Stephen (2015) Knowledge, agency and collective action as barriers to energy-saving behaviour. Local Environment, 21 (7). pp. 883-897. ISSN 1354-9839

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Energy saving is becoming a rising priority as a response to climate change and fossil fuel depletion in recent years. However, despite energy-related behaviour change being an important part of many environmental education initiatives, “energy literacy” among citizens remains patchy in both the USA and the UK, with evidence of strong positive attitudes but less consistent knowledge. Whilst it is clear that increasing knowledge does not automatically produce behaviour changes, potential questions must be asked about the logic of focusing solely on behaviour without simultaneously exploring and enhancing understanding of energy issues. This research, undertaken at a higher education institution with a strong focus on sustainability, illustrates the potential risks of targeting behaviour change and individual action at the expense of increasing knowledge, or encouraging collaborative and democratic endeavours. Results from an online survey indicate widespread misconceptions about energy which may reduce the effectiveness of energy-saving behaviours, alongside variable levels of motivation and engagement with energy issues. Respondents report a strong belief in the efficacy of personal changes, yet uncertainty about their capacity to influence business and government alongside a persistent faith in science to provide solutions to energy issues. The paper concludes by reflecting on the challenges arising from these findings for understanding agency and effectiveness in energy relationships.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Article is also available through the publisher link provided
Keywords: energy literacy, higher education, knowledge, trust, agency, behaviour
Depositing User: Ms Kerry Kellaway
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2019 11:01
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2020 15:17
Related URLs: https://www.tan ... 39.2015.1038986 (Publisher URL)

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