An investigation into the rebound and backfire effects from abatement actions by UK households

Druckman, Angela, Chitnis, Mona, Sorrell, Steven and Jackson, Tim (2010) An investigation into the rebound and backfire effects from abatement actions by UK households. Working Paper. University of Surrey, Guildford.

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Households are expected to play a pivotal role in reducing the UK’s carbon emissions, and the Government is targeting specific household actions to help meet
its targets. However, by focusing on discrete actions, the Government risks failing to take account of the Rebound Effect – a phenomenon whereby carbon reductions
estimated by simple engineering calculations are frequently not realised in practice.
For example, replacing short car journeys by walking or cycling reduces consumption of personal transportation fuels. But this frees up money that may be spent on, for example, purchasing extra clothes or flying on vacation. Alternatively it may be put into savings. These options all give rise to carbon emissions, thus the total carbon saved may be less than predicted. Indeed, in some instances, emissions may even increase – this being known as ‘Backfire’. We estimate that the rebound effect for a set of three abatement actions is 34%. In the best case studied this may be reduced to 12%, but in extreme cases backfire may occur. Our study points to two key strategies to minimise rebound: to encourage households to shift patterns of consumption to lower GHG intensive categories; and to encourage households to invest in low carbon investments.

Item Type: Reports and working papers (Working Paper)
Additional Information: RESOLVE Working Paper 05-10 (revised)
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Nora Blascsok
Date Deposited: 11 May 2015 14:37
Last Modified: 11 May 2015 14:38
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