The role of behavioural change in delivering net-zero

Making behavioural changes central to a comprehensive net-zero strategy will be vital to fighting climate change. But are we ready to make those behavioural changes to lessen the pain for future generations?

Greater education, lowering decarbonisation costs and reducing the hassle to implement behavioural changes will be vital to meeting COP26 targets.

A recent paper1 published by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change looks at what behavioural changes need to take place in society for interim targets like 2030 to be met – other than the rapid deployment of technology and the encouragement of climate action innovation.

The report is specific to the UK which finds itself further into the decarbonisation journey than most and as a result has differing interim targets than most Middle Eastern countries BUT in terms of the key changes that will need to occur, the following 3 key areas and our behaviour to them apply to all countries and cultures as they grapple with a new lower #carbonfuture, that being:

  1. the decarbonisation of our homes
  2. our transport choices and,
  3. our diets.

We believe similar to that highlighted in the Blair Institute report, there is an awareness across the majority of the public, here in the Middle East as well the UK that there’s a need to implement changes. However, awareness is one thing; getting people to take the actions necessary to reduce climate change may be another.

In short, behavioural change will need to be central to any comprehensive net-zero strategy at the government and business level. Key behavioural barriers that impede the speed at which net-zero can be achieved must be broken down – that of knowledge, cost and hassle.

Governments urgently need to develop communications and public engagement strategies on the specific behavioural changes that are needed, and how individuals and businesses will be supported in making them. Businesses need to play their part in beginning decarbonisation journeys and educating employees on the financial and social benefits of doing so.

Unquestionably net-zero requires trade-offs, and not all changes will be popular – but as the report illustrates, this does not mean a reduction in living standards, and in fact in many cases net-zero offers significant economic and social co-benefits.

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