Katilin Raimi penned a News and Views commentary on “Energy-saving behavior: Negative spillover to policy” for the July 2017 edition of Nature Climate Change.
Recycle! Eat less meat! Turn off the lights! Countless media, non-profit, and government campaigns push people to take on individual behaviours for the sake of the environment. In the domain of climate change, researchers have discussed a behavioural wedge by which the individual efforts of many could, in aggregate, be one of multiple wedges for climate change mitigation. Yet behavioural interventions have been criticized because of concern that they could diminish support for the comprehensive policies needed to adequately address the climate challenge. Writing in Nature Climate Change, Seth Werfel reports just this sort of effect among members of the Japanese public: reminding people of the energy-saving actions they took during a campaign to reduce household energy use in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear plant shutdown reduced their support for a national carbon tax.