Can information save energy? A three country comparison of words and actions in participatory local climate protection projects
by Georg Aichholzer; Ralf Cimander; Herbert Kubicek
International Journal of Electronic Governance (IJEG), Vol. 6, No. 1, 2013

Abstract: The international comparative research project 'e2democracy' was aimed at assessing the potential of (e-)participation for fighting climate change in seven cities in Austria, Germany and Spain. Citizen panels collaborated with local governments on CO2 reduction including bi-monthly individual consumption monitoring and feedback of CO2 balances via carbon calculator for a period of up to two years. Following Thaler and Sunstein, the working hypothesis is that information about the impact of one's own behaviour as well as the competitive comparison with others encourages behavioural changes leading to CO2 reduction. Two major findings are: (1) the gap between declared commitments and actual participation is huge, and (2) the central hypothesis is only partly confirmed. Positive impacts among the participants (increased awareness of climate effects, reported changes of behaviour, improved individual CO2 balances by the majority) are not necessarily accompanied by reduced CO2 emissions on the collective level. Informed behaviour change has its limits.

Online publication date: Thu, 18-Apr-2013

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