While some countries have been able to reduce emissions at the production level, they have in some cases increased them at the consumption side through imports of carbon embedded in internationally traded goods and services.
As a result, for some countries total emissions remain unchanged or have even increased. The climate community therefore needs to account for consumption-related emissions and explore policies for addressing them. Demand-side policies can also more directly address consumption as a driver of rising emissions through a wider range of mitigation options in the value chain and at the point of final consumption.
Over the past three years, the Carbon-CAP project has been exploring how EU policy might stimulate changes in consumer behaviour towards lower carbon consumption patterns to complement EU policies that focus on reducing emissions in the production of goods and energy. The goal has been to identify policies, policy instruments and strategies that would encourage such behavioural changes.
This final workshop of the project brought together researchers, businesses, policymakers and consumer groups to look at the results of the project, draw on the experiences and ideas of the participants, and answer the following questions:
- What policies, policy instruments and/or strategies would be effective – if they were in place – in changing consumer behaviour towards low carbon goods?
- How acceptable is a consumer-focused approach to policymakers, businesses and consumers, and under what conditions?
- How can the actions of these three groups be coordinated to improve acceptability and effectiveness of a consumer-focused approach?
- Where do past experiences suggest this approach is successful or not, and what have been the conditions that improve success?
- Which of the approaches recommended by the Carbon-CAP should be the focus of the first EU policies, and how rapidly might the EU be able to implement them?
- How can consumer-based policies identified in the Carbon-CAP contribute to EU and business initiatives such as Climate Policy, Circular Economy and Green Procurement Practices?
The day was organised around three panels on key findings and recommendations of the Carbon-CAP project and a less formal, interactive session that will bring participants together with other researchers, policymakers, business leaders and consumer representatives in small group discussions around issues of implementation.
About the Carbon-CAP project
The Carbon-CAP* project (Carbon emission mitigation by Consumption-based Accounting and Policy), funded by the European Union, addresses the vexed issue of consumption-based carbon accounting and policies. It aims to stimulate an effective climate policy mix - in the EU and internationally - that can address increasing consumption-related emissions in addition to the current focus on production emissions. The consortium is composed of leading experts in climate policy, economics, environmental research, and modelling. It combines work on accounting models with cutting-edge policy research. For more information, please visit the Carbon-Cap website.
*The Carbon-Cap project receives funding from the European Union's Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No 603386.