Handbook on Energy and Climate Change
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Handbook on Energy and Climate Change

Edited by Roger Fouquet

This timely Handbook reviews many key issues in the economics of energy and climate change, raising new questions and offering solutions that might help to minimize the threat of energy-induced climate change.
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Chapter 26: Individual consumers and climate change: searching for a new moral compass

Tanya O’Garra


There is an almost worldwide consensus that human activities associated with the burning of fossil fuels are contributing significantly to changing the world’s climate. The IPCC report (2007) outlines the predicted and actual impacts from this changing climate, which include increasing severity of floods, melting permafrost and increased heat-related human mortality rates. Mitigation of these impacts will require serious reductions in our greenhouse gas emissions, of which carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most important source. So far, climate change mitigation policies worldwide have tended to focus on reductions from industrial and commercial sources, largely ignoring emissions from individuals and households. However, personal transport and domestic heating represent 30–40 per cent of all carbon emissions in the USA (Vandenbergh et al., 2008) and about 32 per cent of carbon emissions in the UK (DECC, 2011; DfT, 2010).

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