National Government Interventions in a Global Arena
Edited by Frank Wijen, Kees Zoeteman, Jan Pieters and Paul van Seters
Chapter 24: The Role of Citizen-Consumers in Globalising Environmental Politics
Gert Spaargaren and Arthur Mol SUMMARY We address the environmental behaviour of citizen-consumers in a globalised setting. We argue for the importance of national and international policies directed at changing the everyday life consumption practices of citizen-consumers from a sustainable development viewpoint. In order to explore the roles that citizen-consumers can play in the greening of consumption, we review the literatures on ecological citizenship (highlighting political roles of consumers), sustainable consumption (concerned with the environmental impact of consumption), and global civil society (relating the roles of consumers and citizens in a global context). Next to this theoretical perspective, we present the results from four Dutch policy projects aimed at reducing the environmental impact of consumption. They show that the impact can be reduced if the technical, social, and political aspects of citizen-consumer behaviour are considered simultaneously. One of the lessons learned from the pilot studies is that national environmental policies should be geared to attuning supply and demand in the context of greening consumption practices. Besides, national governments have a role to play in bridging the growing distance between international developments and domestic commitment to environment and climate change mitigation. We conclude that national environmental policies targeting consumption behaviour of citizen-consumers require an integrative policy approach, a challenge which globalisation has only enhanced over recent years. INTRODUCTION AND OUTLINE OF THE ARGUMENT The connections between ‘environmental’ and ‘global’ change are well established and documented in the social science literature. 684 M2782 - WIJEN TEXT.indd 684 16/11/2011 11:30 The Role...
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