The Global Challenge of Encouraging Sustainable Living
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The Global Challenge of Encouraging Sustainable Living

Opportunities, Barriers, Policy and Practice

Edited by Shane Fudge, Michael Peters, Steven M. Hoffman and Walter Wehrmeyer

This unique book illustrates that in order to address the growing urgency of issues around environmental and resource limits, it is clear that we need to develop effective policies to promote durable changes in behaviour and transform how we view and consume goods and services. It suggests that in order to develop effective policies in this area, it is necessary to move beyond a narrow understanding of ‘how individuals behave’, and to incorporate a more nuanced approach that encompasses behavioural influences in different societies, contexts and settings.
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Chapter 8: From energy policies to energy-related practices in France: the figure of the ‘consumer citizen’ as a normative compromise

Mathieu Brugidou and Isabelle Garabuau-Moussaoui

Extract

The issue of public policies relating to changes in sustainable consumption has recently been raised in France and was a point of focus during the ‘Grenelle de l’Environnement’, a consultancy and decision-making system bringing together, for the first time, environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs), companies, trade unions, members of parliament and government officials. However, since the 1970s, France has been faced with the issue of behavioural changes in energy consumption. This chapter examines the question of the behavioural changes driven by energy-saving policies in France. In particular, the recent history of energy-saving policies has led to the emergence of the ‘consumer citizen’ in relation to market-framed policy devices. Yet analysis of certain public policies (using energy-saving light bulbs for lighting, thermal renovation via the sustainable development tax credit) shows that while frameworks for consumption behaviour can be quite effective when it comes to designing policy, there are shifts and ‘spillover effects’ in the interlinking and confrontation between the figure of the ‘consumer citizen’ and the actual practices of households and of all the actors involved. Finally, energy practices in French households demonstrate a multitude of social logics either favouring or restricting energy-saving practices, both within ‘concerned’ social groups and amongst the ‘general public’, where the environmental argument is far from being a pertinent indicator of ‘energy care’.

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