Achieving sustainability transitions in residential energy use across Europe: The importance of problem framings
Jensen, Charlotte Louise
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Jensen, Charlotte Louise, Goggins, Gary, Røpke, Inge, & Fahy, Frances. (2019). Achieving sustainability transitions in residential energy use across Europe: The importance of problem framings. Energy Policy, 133, 110927. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2019.110927
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the residential sector is central to European energy policy. However, the speed and scale of sustainable energy transitions need to accelerate. There is a growing consensus that meeting energy targets is highly dependent on interrelated socio-material and cultural aspects of energy use. New ways of framing energy demand that go beyond dominant efficiency- and behavior models are needed. Recognizing these concerns, this paper reports on a review of 1067 Sustainable Energy Consumption Initiatives (SECIs) that aim to reduce residential energy use across 30 European countries. The initiatives are categorized and a corresponding Problem Framing Typology (PFT) is developed, highlighting important aspects of different types of problem framings. The typology contains four categories including 1) Changes in technology; 2) Changes in individual behavior; 3) Changes in everyday life situations; 4) and Changes in complex interactions. Applying the PFT to the 1067 SECIs shows that the vast majority (75%) of SECIs are positioned within category 1 and 2, indicating a lingering bias towards technocratic consumer behavioral strategies. The limitations of such approaches are discussed, and it is argued that systematically addressing interactions between technology, businesses, culture and everyday-life is more likely to lead to long-term transformation.