Public attitudes to personal carbon dioxide emissions information

Project details

Full project title: Public attitudes to personal carbon dioxide emissions information

Sponsor: Department for Transport

CTS team members: Dr Charles Musselwhite and Professor Glenn Lyons

Project partners: British Market Research Bureau (lead) and Air Quality Management Resource Centre (UWE)

Other team members: Dr Mark Hanly and Dr Jillian Anable

Start date: April 2007

Finish date: January 2008

Project summary

This research set out to improve the understanding of how the public engages with environmental terminology and personal carbon emissions information.

The research was also carried out to inform good practice recommendations for the design and presentation of carbon calculators aimed at raising awareness of personal contribution to climate change and encouraging behaviour change.

The research involved interviews with stakeholders, professionals with experience of communicating environmental information, and individuals with experience of using carbon calculators, as well as group discussions with people who had never made use of carbon calculators.

The findings suggested participants have limited understanding of environmental issues and, if designed appropriately, carbon calculators can play a useful role in closing the public knowledge gap. However, subsequent behaviour change as a result of carbon calculators was limited by perceptions of the practicalities of changing behaviour and the relative insignificance of individual action in comparison to national, international and commercial emissions.