Climate Change is widely recognised as the most serious threat to society of our generation. The science of its expected impacts, and of its cause in the patterns of behaviour associated with industrialised societies are now well understood, even if the solutions are not always clear. This understanding has led to the EU adopting ambitious targets such as the EU 20-20-20 targets. ANSWER delivers practical and realistic approaches to realising this goal.
The best energy is energy we don't use!
A reduction in our energy demand is generally seen as a key part of the solution - with a part of the EU strategy calling for a 20% increase in energy-efficiency. This requires a change in how we design and use the materials of modern society - from Passivhaus buildings to how we choose to travel. Behavioural change is a particularly important tool, as it takes effect immediately, often saving money on no investment - particularly as fuel prices rise. It can also empower individuals and communities to take control of their response to climate change.
"Energy efficiency is not just low-hanging fruit; it is fruit that is lying on the ground"
So, what's the problem?
We know that there is a problem demanding change. We know how we need to change, and what the benefits of this are. Yet change is still not meeting demand. Estimates in 2011 suggest that "the North Sea Region as a whole is only on course to achieve a 9% increase in energy efficiency" - less than half the target. An Ipsos Mori report compiled for the RSA found that “74% of people felt that “we are heading for environmental disaster if we don’t quickly change our habits”, yet 59% said that “they are doing nothing about it”. Why is this?
At ANSWER, we believe that - even when change is superficially easy ('just turn off those lights'), there may be many and varied obstacles that prevent it actually happening. These obstacles are likely to vary depending on the circumstances; so a small business might not find the time to calculate the savings, or a household may not believe that their small actions make any impact.
We also know that every obstacle has a solution, and that each solution must be tailored to the needs of the individual. This approach is based on the recognition that people have many differing concerns, but that climate change demands a coordinated shift. Achieving the necessary change demands that obstacles - whether financial, educational or psychological - all receive a serious response.
Here we are proud to present some of the ways that we translate this vision into reality. We thank you for reading, and hope it inspires you to find some ANSWERs that work for you.
"If we are to make significant strides towards a low carbon society, we will need behavioural change at all levels of society. But we need to empower people for this to happen."