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Low-carbon communities as a context for individual behavioural change

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Energy Policy, Volume 38, Number 12, p.7586-7595 (2010)



Previous attempts to change energy-related behaviour were targeted at individuals as consumers of energy. Recent literature has suggested that more focus should be placed on the community level and that energy users should be engaged in the role of citizens, and not only that of consumers. This article analyses different types of emerging low-carbon communities as a context for individual behavioural change. The focus is on how these communities offer solutions to problems in previous attempts to change individual behaviour. These problems include social dilemmas, social conventions, socio-technical infrastructures and the helplessness of individuals. Different community types are examined, including geographical communities as well as sector-based, interest-based and smart mob communities. Through four case studies representing each of these community types, we examine how different communities reframe problems on the individual level to reduce carbon emissions. On the basis of an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of various community solutions, implications are drawn for further research and for the design and support of low-carbon communities.