Can Advertisements Alter Environmental Behavior?

by JP Kiefer

With approximately 40% of the UK’s emissions capable of being linked to actions undertaken by individuals, it is clear that public support is essential to counteracting climate change. The UK attempted to gain this support with its Act on CO2 campaign, but it found that certain advertisements, such as those developed to elicit fear in its audience, were extremely ineffective. Adam Corner (2011) looks at the advertisements of the campaign in an attempt to systematically critique the social marketing approach to engaging the public on climate change. Continue reading

Why Would Anyone Buy a Hybrid Car?

by JP Kiefer

With some experts expecting the transport sector to contribute to 50% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, hybrid cars may be a great alternative to reduce climate change resulting from increased vehicle use. Despite this, some consumers choose not to drive hybrid vehicles. Ritsuko (2011), claims that this is a result of a car being more than just a utilitarian means of transport, but also an item laden with cultural meaning and image such as identity and status. Ritsuko researched what makes a customer buy a hybrid vehicle in order to discover how to encourage them to do so. Continue reading

Are Electric Vehicles Really Worth The Higher Costs?

by JP Kiefer

Electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles all offer promising alternatives to the conventional vehicle in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These alternatives may not be as beneficial as they seem on first glance, however. While electric, hybrid-electric, and fuel cell vehicles all promise to minimize greenhouse gas emissions from their daily use, Gau and Winfield (2012) point out that each vehicle’s life cycle assessment needs to be computed before jumping to the conclusion that hybrid vehicles minimize greenhouse gas emissions. The life cycle assessment analyzes the greenhouse gas emissions from two cycles: a vehicle life cycle that includes vehicle assembly, maintenance, dismantling, and recycling and a fuel life cycle that consists of fuel extraction, processing, distribution, storage, and use. These alternative vehicles are the products of a larger volume of greenhouse gas emission from the vehicle life cycle due to additional energy consumption involved with the batteries and other additional parts that go into the more advanced technologies. Electric, hybrid electric, and plug-in hybrid vehicles can also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions when the energy used to charge the batteries does not come from a clean energy source. Gau and Winfield calculate that alternative vehicles do consume less energy than conventional vehicles, which consume an estimated 3600kJ/km in their life time, compared to a mere 2250kJ/km by hybrid electric vehicles or 3000kJ/km by extended range electric vehicles. Continue reading

Are Energy Efficiency Ratings Helping to Reduce Energy Consumption?

by JP Kiefer

The institute for Environmental Decisions in Zurich, Switzerland researched the effect that the energy efficiency ratings displayed on appliances in the European Union have on helping consumers to conserve energy. Since 2010, the European Union has standardized an energy label for more than 10 product categories, allowing each product to be rated with a letter ranging up to an A+++ and down to a D. While other information is displayed alongside the letter grade of each product, members of the Institute for Environmental Decisions feared that consumers did not know how to interpret the number of kWh used per year by a product, and that they instead focused only on the arbitrary letter grade. The institute describes an “energy efficiency fallacy” in which consumers assume that a high-energy efficiency rating automatically implies low energy consumption. This could be a problem if consumers unnecessarily buy larger versions of a product- say a large television- because it has the same energy rating as a smaller television, despite using substantially more energy. Consumers also might be more willing to leave appliances on when not in use if it is believed the electronics are energy efficient. Research suggests that while consumers are willing to pay more money for appliances with higher energy efficiency ratings, there is little correlation between a consumer’s willingness to purchase an energy efficient appliance and their attitude towards other sustainable behavior. Continue reading