بررسی داخلی صرفه جویی در انرژی: نقش نگرانی های زیست محیطی و متغیرهای پیش زمینه
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|26414||2012||12 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||9167 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Energy Policy, Volume 47, August 2012, Pages 69–80
The main purpose of this paper is to investigate whether residents' environmental concern has any effect on their energy-saving curtailments and efficiency investments. The novelty of the present work lies in the fact that it seeks to investigate this topic in a multi-country setting, exploiting data from nine OECD countries (Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Italy, South Korea, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden), and also in that it employs a latent variable model which allows us to examine the conditions necessary for the results to be comparable across different countries. Novel in this paper is also the focus on the role of environmental concern as a factor of several curtailments and efficiency investments. Our results suggest that people with higher environmental concern are on average more likely to perform energy-saving curtailments and also are more likely to have some energy-efficiency retrofits installed in dwellings. Most of the socio-economic and demographic variables have mixed effects on efficiency investments and curtailments. However, some interesting patterns emerged with respect to the age of respondents, household income, education and gender of respondents, and also the size of household.
Nowadays, OECD member countries, with only about 18% of the world's population, account for about 54% of its consumption of electricity and 24% of heat, with the household sector being the key player in energy consumption. In the OECD, residential energy contributes about 20% of total energy use, whereas residential electricity and heat represent both about one third of the grand total. Although the increasing trend in final consumption of residential energy in the OECD – with about 8% growth in the 1980s and 16% growth in the 1990s – has slowed down during the last decade, residential energy consumption still grew and in 2009 was about 2% larger than in the year 2000. Electricity consumption in the OECD residential sector has increased by 16% since 2000 until now. Residential energy use varies widely among OECD countries (see Fig. 1), reflecting climatic conditions, wealth, consumption habits and behavioral patterns. The residential sectors in Norway, Canada, USA and Sweden have almost double or more electricity use per capita than is the average in OECD countries (2.4 MW h per capita a year in 2009), energy use in France and Australia is about the average, households in Korea, Hungary and Italy use about half of the average, while countries such as Turkey, Chile or Mexico use about 20% of what is the average energy consumption in OECD countries. The rate of growth in electricity consumption varies widely among OECD countries as well (see Fig. 1); Belgium, Slovakia, Estonia and Sweden decreased residential electricity use between 2000 and 2009, while, electricity use increased by less than 10% in the same period in the Czech Republic, Canada, Australia, Italy, USA and the UK, and by more than 10% in such countries as in Portugal, Chile, Korea, Spain and Turkey (see Figure 1 for details). The multi-country survey exploited in this study covers OECD countries with different consumption levels, different rates of growth and different geographical regions.Increasing energy use not only has economic consequences, and an effect on energy security, but also generates damage. As shown by, for example, Weinzettel et al. (2012), energy consumption leads to large negative externalities, especially adverse health effects and large effects due to climate change. Further, Máca et al. (in press) have found that the level of external costs internalization by economic instruments is fairly low for existing fossil-fired power plants and even if the subsidization of renewable electricity was also accounted for, the level of internalization would remain rather low, between 9 to 55%, especially for non-gas fossil-based electricity generating technologies. Households can minimize adverse environmental effects related to their energy consumption particularly by reducing the use of energy-consuming household appliances (this type of energy-saving activity is referred to as “curtailments”) or by increasing the energy efficiency of their stock of appliances (by making “efficiency investments”). It has been argued that energy curtailments and efficiency investments are fast, convenient and relatively cheap ways to achieve significant reduction in adverse environmental effects of modern societies in the short and medium term horizons, especially with respect to green-house gas emissions (Dietz et al., 2009, Gardner and Stern, 2008 and Vandenbergh et al., 2008). However, motivation that leads individuals and households to adopt energy-saving activities is very complex (Steg, 2008). As a rule, economic factors (e.g., saving money on energy bills, paying less for energy-efficiency appliances) are most often cited motivations for curtailments and energy investments, while environmental motives are mentioned as less important together with convenience, health-related motivation, habits, availability of products or their easier identification through labels (OECD, 2011 and Whitmarsh, 2009). It is therefore not surprising that certain studies no not find any effect of environmental concern on some energy curtailments (Carlsson-Kanyama et al., 2005 and Whitmarsh and O'Neill, 2010) and also no effect on some efficiency investments (Achtnicht, 2011 and Whitmarsh and O'Neill, 2010). In any case, environmental motivation behind energy-saving may be interesting from a policy perspective for several reasons. First, environmental concern seems to be a very solid motive for energy saving because it is independent of the attractiveness and cost effectiveness of the energy saving behavior (Steg, 2008) and because it is a “situation invariant orientation pattern” (Bamberg, 2003, p. 22). Because of this, environmental concern can actually lower some of the unintended negative consequences of improved energy efficiency, such as the rebound effect because it orients consumers towards energy-saving regardless of decreasing marginal costs of energies and also independently on whether particular type of energy-saving pays back. Second, environmental motivation may be interesting also because of the cross-situational influences of pro-environmental motivation (Whitmarsh, 2009), which may result in a spill-over of environmentally-friendly behavior from one specific area to a different one (Diekmann and Preisendörfer, 1998, Thøgersen, 2004 and Thøgersen and Ölander, 2006). This means that increasing environmental motivation for one type of energy-saving is likely to spill-over to different types of energy-saving because they can also deliver environmental benefits. The purpose of this article is to investigate whether there is any systematic effect of environmental concern on energy saving curtailments and energy-efficiency investments in the residential sector. Specifically, this study seeks to examine this question from a multi-country perspective, when controlling for background confounding variables, thus testing the generalizability of the answer to the first research question across nine OECD countries and also its sensitivity to confounding effects of socio-demographic variables. The novelty of the present work lies in the fact that it seeks to investigate this topic in a multi-country setting and also in that it employs a latent variable model which allows us to examine the conditions necessary for the results to be comparable across different countries and therefore it does not take the comparability of the latent construct as a hidden assumption. Novel in this paper is also the focus on the role of environmental concern as a factor of several curtailments and efficiency investments measured simultaneously. This paper proceeds as follows. First, we introduce the concept of energy saving activities as consisting of curtailments and efficiency investments and review pertinent literature which deals with the effects of environmental concern and background variables on curtailments and efficiency investments. Second, the data and method used in this study are introduced. Third, the main results of this study are presented. The final section provides a discussion of the results, their policy relevance and also puts forward some suggestions for future research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The main purpose of this paper was to investigate whether residents’ environmental concern has any effect on their energy saving curtailments and efficiency investments. The novelty of the present work lies in the fact that it seeks to investigate this topic in a multi-country setting, exploiting the data from nine OECD countries (Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Italy, South Korea, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden) and also in that it employs a latent variable model which allows us to examine the conditions necessary for the results to be comparable across different countries and novel in this paper is also the focus on the role of environmental concern as a factor of several curtailments and efficiency investments. Our results suggest that people with a higher environmental concern are on average more likely to perform energy-saving curtailments and also are more likely to have some energy-efficiency retrofits installed in their dwellings. However, our study also found that environmental concern has no statistical effect on whether or not people have made two major efficiency investments, specifically whether they have invested in the purchase of efficiency-rated water heaters and whether they have installed renewable resources in their dwellings. Importantly, our analysis also revealed that these results are generalizable to the nine OECD countries examined in this study and are relatively insensitive to the confounding effect of background variables. The fact that environmental concern has either no effect or a relatively weak one on those energy-saving actions which are more demanding in terms of their capital costs, time needed for their purchase and implementation, and also which are subject to other external constraints, is well in line with literature which assumes a lesser role of internal motivation in such instances. This finding has very practical policy implications because it suggests that a strengthening of environmental concern through policy intervention can actually lead to an increase in both curtailments and efficiency investments. Although the efficiency of such policy instruments would need to be tested, possibly using experimental evidence, it is clear that the synergic effect of environmental concern on diverse energy-saving actions is very advantageous from a practical point of view. In fact, these results support the contention that awareness-raising campaigns could be employed to minimize the rebound effect (cf. Bio Intelligence Service, 2011, pp. 66–68) precisely because environmental concern can stimulate both efficiency investments and also everyday energy-saving curtailments. Besides the effect of environmental concern, our study also analyzed the effects of various background variables on environmental concern, curtailments and efficiency investments. Our results, again in line with existing empirical evidence, suggest that most of the socio-economic and demographic variables have mixed effects on the three variables. However, some interesting patterns emerged with respect to the age of respondents, household income, education and gender of respondents and also the size of household. One of the important findings of our study is that older people are usually more concerned about the environment and are also more likely to introduce efficiency measures and perform curtailments. Thus age seems to have both direct and indirect effects on energy conservation. Another important finding is that people living in wealthier households tend to be less concerned about environmental problems, tend to curtail less, but are more likely to invest in energy efficiency. Our study has also confirmed the findings of previous studies that the level of formal education plays no decisive role in differentiating between those who conserve energy and those who do not. Energy policies in the OECD countries have largely ignored the role of socio-psychological variables as factors of energy consumption and energy-saving over the last 30 years, and instead they use mainly monetary incentives, legal regulations and/or information measures such as efficiency labeling and provision of feedback information on energy consumption (Geller et al., 2006). The present study shows that energy policies may benefit by using policy tools that would exploit the role of environmental concern as a factor of energy-saving. Environmental concern, being a “situation invariant orientation pattern” influences how decision problems are framed, helps to implement and plan actions of individuals, and also increases their effort to overcome barriers that they encounter in the course of these actions (Bamberg, 2003, p. 22). All of these functions that environmental concern as a factor of behavior plays could be very useful for policies that aim at promotion of curtailments and efficiency investments in the residential sector. The limitations of the present study, as we see them, should be acknowledged as well. Probably the most important limitation lies in the fact that this study uses only one specific multiple-topic-single-expression instrument to measure environmental concern. Unfortunately, there is no widely accepted and theoretically well-grounded measure of environmental concern and therefore any instrument that measures environmental concern can be susceptible to this type of criticism at the present moment. Research aimed at the development and testing of complex measures of environmental concern, particularly in a multi-country setting, is very much needed. Another limitation of the study is given by the fact that the data come from nine developed and rich OECD countries. As a consequence, this fact may limit the generalizability of our results to countries at a similar level of economic development. However, we think that our study is not limited to one cultural or geopolitical region as it exploits data from four continents and several language cultures. Last but not least, this study is based on cross-sectional data and correlational evidence. Although the statistical model used in this study is relatively complex and although we made sure to base this model conceptually on previous empirical evidence and theory, our results may be criticized for failing to provide evidence of causal effect of environmental concern on energy conservation. We acknowledge this limitation and hope that future research will make an effort to collect empirical evidence more relevant for the formulation of similar causal statements, particularly evidence from experimental and panel studies conducted simultaneously in several countries.