Cities around the world account for two-thirds of the world’s energy demand and 70% of the energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Without efforts to lessen per capita energy use, these values are expected to continue to increase alongside growing urban populations. Local governments can influence energy use in their communities through a variety of policy and program options. These governments can serve as role models for their communities by promoting energy efficiency in their own operations or participating in national energy efficiency programs, such as DOE’s “Better Buildings Challenge.
” Moreover, they can directly motivate residents through interactive energy-saving campaigns, alter mobility behavior, and encourage efficient appliance purchases.
However, as far as past records show, attempts to encourage people to adopt pro-environmental behavior often achieve only limited success. Only a few cities in the US have created systematic plans to respond to climate change. City-scale participation to combat global warming is a unique social problem that requires substantial investment of finances and labor to protect against weather events that are both unpredictable and thought to be far in the future.
However, high costs combined with uncertain beliefs about the future usually do not lead to rapid policy decisions or implementation in both the local and national level.
Despite such proposed hardships, across the US, local governments are increasingly designing and implementing energy efficiency programs that aim to change behaviors in order to save energy. With sufficient knowledge gathered upon research of college students and small communities, there are many suggestions and ways local governments can get actively involved with their people in combatting climate change.
In a local government, energy efficiency program administrators can design programs that encourage people to change their behavior in order to reduce energy consumption without disrupting their daily life. These programs change behaviors using principles based on social or behavioral science, in contrast to programs relying solely on incentives, rebates, taxes, or other policies. Several studies with actual communities list a myriad of examples of these programs and other evaluation and interaction mechanisms are also well elaborated through step-by-step analyses.
In sum, local governments may face challenges in terms of funding and staff capacity that impact their ability to design an effective behavior change program against climate change. However, by conducting preliminary research and doing up-front evaluation design, local governments can, early in the process, develop deeper insights into effective strategies and methods and ensure proper data collection and program evaluation. Ultimately, behavior change that increases energy efficiency can actually benefit local governments as they aim to achieve climate change mitigation and other closely related goals, and many local governments have opportunities to expand their local energy efficiency to include behavior change programs. Thus, expanding programs for the public on a local level can be easily incentivized and carried out in order to reduce per capita emissions across the US.