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Problem 9

Lack of public awareness creates barriers to long-term thinking about energy

Problem Dimensions

Low Literacy Rates

• Public awareness is a barrier to resolving many drivers of climate change particularly in developing nations, where low rates of illiteracy contribute to low public awareness. [1]

Procurement of Physical Capital

The ownership structures, where the owners are different from the users, of physical capital accrue the benefits of energy efficiency disproportionately.[2]

• Public awareness cannot be divorced from economic considerations and the comfortable lifestyle fossil fuels enable.

  1. E.g. In China, the central government has made contracts with certain domestic regions that exchanges environmental degradation for GDP growth.[3]
  2. In developed nations, people don’t care as long as they have electricity. They need to be educated on the concept of sustainability in order to influence their consumption pattern.[4]

• Selling the importance of climate change hinges on successfully communicating that we are trading our future welfare for current consumption.

  1. Effective measures that lower GHG emissions like carbon taxes, are politically unpopular so less-effective tools are implemented. [5]

 

Public opinion drives political action.

• The abandonment of the Kyoto Protocol by America, Canada, Russia and Japan suggests that the majority of citizens in these countries do not regard climate change as a priority.

  1. Debatable scientific evidence.
  2. Greater value on current economic conditions.

Solutions

Conventional Solutions

Forge a link between knowledge and caring so that education leads to action.

- According to Dr. Rajendra Pachauri:

  • The developed world has to realize their contribution to increased carbon emissions on the world. Then, they must transform ideas into action. [6]
  • For developing nations, increasing the literacy rate and education will raise awareness regarding the benefits of renewable energy.

- “[People] need to be educated on the concept of sustainability in order to influence their consumption pattern.”[7]

NGO’s should hold educational sessions targeted at the elderly.

- Delegates believe that it is imperative for the elderly to grasp the importance of transitioning to renewable energy as well as understanding the effects of long-term dependency on fossil fuels.

- Delegates from the Middle East proposed offering monetary incentives for grownups to attend these sessions.

NGO’s should hold educational sessions targeted at the elderly.

- Delegates believe that it is imperative for the elderly to grasp the importance of transitioning to renewable energy as well as understanding the effects of long-term dependency on fossil fuels.
- Delegates from the Middle East proposed offering monetary incentives for grownups to attend these sessions.

Create sustainable educational campaigns to educate the public.

- “In order to create awareness, you have to start with the younger people and then at the same time you create the change within the older people” [8]

 

Progressive Solutions

Tangibly link energy consumption in the present to the future.

Incorporate energy into social norms through EnerBucks[9] which can be used:[10]

-        To pay for courses at post-secondary institutions.

-        After retirement to gain free or discounted energy.

-        As pre-requisites for sustainability courses at post-secondary institutions. (E.g. Students need a minimum amount of EnerBucks to take a course.)

-        As pre-requisites when applying for jobs related to the environment or energy.

  • Criminals cannot apply to become police officers in many regions. Job applicants can demonstrate they have internalized energy efficiency into their lives by reporting their lifetime of earned EnerBucks on their resumes.

Generate Hype with Celebrities

Encourage local professional sports teams to champion sustainable energy by teaching energy conservation and climate change to children.

-        Elementary and secondary school programs to promote energy conservation behaviour.

Provide incentives to the next generation of student leaders.

Grant EnerBucks and/or monetary scholarships to students who promote energy conservation or aid the transition to renewable sources of energy.

  1. [1] Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Director-General of TERI (Tata Energy Research Institute) and Keynote Speaker at ISES 2011.
  2. [2] Explained in Problems 1, 2, 3, and 7.
  3. [3] Dr. Wenran Jiang, Chair of the China Institute at the University of Alberta, Senior Fellow of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and speaker for the China: The Demand Question at ISES 2011.
  4. [4] Innocent Onah, a Nigerian delegate at ISES 2011.
  5. [5]   Dr. Mark Jaccard, Professor of the School of Resource and Environment Management at Simon Fraser University and Keynote Speaker at ISES 2011.
  6. [6]  Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Director-General of TERI (Tata Energy Research Institute) and Keynote Speaker at ISES 2011.
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  7. [7] Innocent Onah, a Nigerian delegate at ISES 2011.
  8. [8] Proposed by African delegates at ISES 2011.
  9. [9] Explained in Problem 3.
  10. [10] Expanded in Problems 3, 7 and 10.

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