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Climate change: What does the IPCC refer to as ‘choice architecture’? Can it alter our behavior? Climate News | Climate News

Climate change: What does the IPCC refer to as ‘choice architecture’? Can it alter our behavior? Climate News | Climate News

UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres gave a virtual address following the launch of the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): Mitigation of Climate Change.

For the first time ever, UN climate scientists have dedicated a whole chunk of a report to how we can curb climate change by reducing energy demand – that is, by consuming less.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) pioneering report found that this could actually reduce pollution by 40-70% between 2050 and 2050 across all sectors – including buildings, food, transport, industry, and transport –

Prof Felix Creutzig, the report author, said that we can avoid “headaches” about energy supply, such as whether to frack gas or continue with gas production, or how many new nuclear reactors to build, if there is less energy.

Prof Patrick Devine-Wright, author of the report, said that while it lists many actions that people can take to change their behaviours, it is not enough.

People need policies and “choicearchitecture” to support them.

What is choice architecture?

Prof Nick Eyre, report contributor, said that this is not about individual, unconstrained options. All choices are constrained economically… by what’s in your hands.

He said that regulating bad products from the market is the best architecture at its simplest. Building regulations provide good information about the energy consumption of a product or its lifecycle emissions.

A group of international scientists identified some key areas that needed to be addressed. What are some of the policies that could help?

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“We are on the fast track to climate catastrophe.”

How do we travel?

According to the report, 60 actions could be taken that could reduce individual consumption. However, the most important one is how we travel. This was endorsed by 195 countries.

People need support to make this shift. Dr Creutzig said that many people want to ride but feel unsafe. Therefore, authorities are needed to make streets safer and quieter.

Continue reading: UN warns that fossil fuels investment is a political and economic madness

Although the IPCC stated that private car use must be limited, drivers need to be encouraged. You can encourage people to share their cars by offering financial incentives, promoting “car-free Sundays”, changing parking options, or providing good alternatives.

Emissions from cars can also be reduced by setting speed limits. Sharing apps and ride hailing can also increase emissions as they are more often used than public transport.

We need to reduce carbon emissions by making it easier for people to walk and cycle.

Buildings we use

Prof Creutzig claims that a combination “feedback, incentives, and nudges can reduce 6% emissions from buildings.”

Feedback is something like telling households how much gas their household uses in comparison to their neighbors – which has helped lower gas usage in parts of Italy as well as the US. Smart meters show people how much energy is being used.

Incentives are financial incentives or rewards that encourage people to choose cleaner options such as grants or savings for insuring their homes.

Prof Eyre says that although many of these things appear to be individual choices, they are actually influenced by the infrastructure of cities, incentives and the supply chain.

You can call up to get a new boiler if your boiler stops working. Most people don’t even think to ask if there might be something else, as that’s what the supply chain provides at this moment.

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Scientists believe that reducing meat intake can be beneficial.

What we eat

According to the scientists, sustainable diets are often healthier, and can be easily made affordable and culturally acceptable.

Prof Creutzig explains that the first item on a menu has a “priming impact”, meaning that diners are more likely to order the same type of meal. Diners are more likely than others to order vegetarian meals if they see a vegetarian option first.

Studies have shown that identifying the carbon footprint of meals and foods can be helpful.

Other greenhouse gases can also be taxed. For example, levy on food that releases a lot methane, such as fertiliser to soy for beef.

Benefits vs. sacrifices

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According to the report, cutting demand tends not to lead to a reduction in life expectancy but rather an improvement.

It summarizes that “Demand-side mitigation responses options are consistent with improving fundamental wellbeing for all.”

Prof Eyre says these changes will lead to “warmer homes”, safer streets, cleaner air and better diets.

Until aviation has another fuel, cutting the emissions will mean that flying for some will be stopped or reduced.

The more money that you have, the more things you can do.

Prof Creutzig states that the more educated and wealthier you are, the greater is your potential to change. This is partly because your emissions due to your consumption tends to be disproportionately large.

The report stated that “individuals with high socioeconomic status are capable to reduce their GHG emission by becoming role models for low carbon lifestyles, investing into low-carbon businesses, advocating for stringent climate policy,”

Social influencers, thought-leaders and others who are highly visible in their community have more power to effect change.

As certain professions such as architects can influence building sizes, they choose wood over concrete, add insulation and shading, and so on.

On the flip side, certain communities and nations require more energy and other resources to attain a decent living standard.

Scientists believe that clever design can help to satisfy some of this need.

Prof Devine-Wright said that combining efforts to change behaviour and individual changes could create a powerful engine for change.

The Daily Climate Show airs Monday through Friday at 8.30pm on Sky News, the Sky News app on YouTube and Twitter.

The show examines how global warming is changing the landscape and offers solutions.

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