Climate change, energy and sustainability

The work we publish creates an understanding of the connection between global discourses on climate change facts, specific policy responses and environmental law, contributing to ongoing debates in academia and beyond.

Our publishing links to the global project, including the UN Agenda 2030, and provides a solid foundation for international and domestic policies around global warming, to support building impactful democratic solutions. 

Bristol University Press and Policy Press are signed up to the UN SDG Publishers Compact. In Climate change, energy and sustainability, we aim to address the following goals: 

Climate Change, Energy and Sustainability

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This paper offers a novel analysis of how Nepal is delivering its commitment to secondary education provision that is advancing environmental sustainability, tracing a trajectory that begins with national policies relating to environmental sustainability and incorporating the national curriculum framework, textbooks, pedagogies used in classrooms, and learner experiences and anticipated actions. We consider Nepal’s education about and for environmental sustainability in the context of theories of environmental justice, and question if and how secondary provision might promote the behavioural change that Nepal recognises is vital for environmental sustainability. Qualitative data were generated through policy analysis, critical content analysis of secondary-level curriculum and textbooks, classroom observations, semi-structured interviews with 15 teachers and 4 headteachers, and a range of in-person activities with 24 students in purposively selected four community secondary schools in the three diverse locations across Nepal. The results illuminate pronounced disconnections across modalities that indicate incoherence and unresolved debates in the underlying narrative of what environmental sustainability is and the role of education in addressing it. Our findings suggest that learners’ ideas, opinions, thinking and experiences should be encouraged and celebrated in the classroom to aid learners in translating conceptual learning into practical, sustainable behaviours, as well as to contribute to environmental justice. The findings appeal to the concerned stakeholders for their consideration of future policy and programme development that promotes environmental justice through education and establishes a connection between classroom learning and students’ lived experiences through a participatory approach, collaboration, and critical and creative thinking.

Open access

The uptake of homeowner energy retrofits and related policy instruments are lagging behind targets. The Finnish government has decided on the phasing out of oil heating by 2035, but despite financial and other support for homeowners, only 14 per cent of homeowners with oil heating reported planning to switch their heating systems. Homeowner decision-making on energy investments is typically seen as an outcome of rational evaluation based on calculations about costs, payback times, and savings in energy and money. However, informal, experience-based knowledge contributes centrally to situations where people end up keeping their current heating system, yet there is little research on practical knowledge when households consider energy investments. This article presents findings from interviews with Finnish homeowners (N=29) living in detached houses with oil heating systems and argues that homeowners’ embodied heating habits and practical knowledge are important in understanding homeowner willingness to keep existing heating systems. In the in-depth interviews conducted in spring 2022, homeowners discussed their energy use practices, past renovations and future renovation needs, as well as concerns related to switching oil heating to a low carbon heating system. The findings suggest that homeowners’ practical knowledge on heating with their existing system and the lack of such knowledge in relation to alternative heating systems may be one reason why homeowners are reluctant to switch their heating systems. The study contributes to a growing body of research which highlights the relevance of everyday practices in homeowner energy renovations.

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Cultural hierarchies enable an understanding of how consumption takes part in the reproduction of social inequalities in current societies. The changing nature of these hierarchies reveals a tension between established and emerging forms of cultural capital. This article explores this tension in the context of an understudied European cultural semi-periphery country. It focuses on young university students in a social milieu where new trends, established legitimate culture and cosmopolitan cultural flows intersect. The article uses a mixed-method approach and analyses cultural space both through survey data and follow-up in-depth interviews. Detailed exploration of cultural repertoires shows that while survey analysis shows both established and emerging forms of legitimate culture, there is widespread deference among the students towards the former. While cultural goods associated with emerging cultural capital are widely consumed, they are not related to repertoires of legitimisation. This points to the continuing importance of national institutions and their pedagogical practices in delineating what is understood as legitimate culture.

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Changes in personal consumption play an important role in the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to stay within the 1.5-degree warming carbon footprint budget. Affluent countries have high carbon footprints from a consumptive perspective and therefore have a high potential to reduce emissions from personal consumption. To study this potential, we look at the consumption-based carbon footprints of respondents from a carbon footprint calculator survey from the Nordic countries to compare the carbon footprints of those who participated in selected low-carbon consumption options to those that did not. The total sample size of the survey is 8,000 households. We analysed seven low-carbon consumption options within the domains of diet, transportation and housing energy. An input-output based hybrid assessment model was used to calculate the consumption-based carbon footprints. In addition to analysing these options separately, we also analysed them in combination. The lowest carbon footprints were associated with those respondents who did not own a car or had a vegan or vegetarian diet, and the largest difference in emissions was associated with not flying and not owning a car. Rebound effects for the consumption options were largely limited and were mostly not significant. Participation rates in the low-carbon consumption options were generally low. These results underscore the need for higher rates of adopting multiple low-carbon consumption options and can inform policy on which consumption options could be the most impactful.

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There has been a growing interest in the connection between consumption and health, particularly in relation to consumerism in healthcare services and consumption’s impact on population health. Initially the idea of the ‘healthcare consumer’ was met with extreme scepticism, as it was argued that this idea was a misnomer and that the concept was threatening to fragment healthcare. Yet more recent empirical work into consumption practices and health has shown that the relationship is much more nuanced than previously thought. This article takes the case of daily care for oral devices and seeks to further unpack the relationship between consumption and health. The results are based on analysis of data collected in 2019 from the Philippines and Russia. The analysis focuses on how adjustments are made to the relationships between the body, consciousness and everyday life when living with oral devices (dentures, aligners and mouthguards). It examines the daily practices associated with care for such devices, examining the spaces, materials and practices involved in daily oral care. The findings demonstrate that in Russia and the Philippines several ‘bundles’ of consumption practices exist, reflecting quite different teleoaffective structures for consumption practices. The study also uncovers the ‘distributed agency’ of oral devices examining how they shape daily life.

Open access
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Everyday lives are made of many practices, often more intricately intertwined than recognised. Fundamental practices, like how we eat, move around and live, have profound impacts on the climate and adaptability towards sustainable societies. While the impacts of these practices in isolation may be well understood, the interrelatedness of how these practices foster, constrain or change one another has been scarcely examined. In response, this paper serves a dual purpose. First, to empirically demonstrate a relationship between food-, mobility- and housing-related consumption. It does this by investigating shared practices among young adults living in Denmark. Findings reveal that home location plays a significant role in prefiguring mobility- and food-related practices. Mobility-related practices, like the daily route or mobility mode, adapt to the home’s location, while grocery shopping is conveniently integrated into daily commuting routes. Hence, this study offers empirical evidence of how certain practices not only influence but often prefigure other practices within the context of everyday life. The second purpose of this paper is to reflect on the climate-related consequences of these interdependent practices. The location of the home creates a locked-in situation for various daily practices, such as commuting and grocery shopping, influencing the degree of climate-friendly consumption. For instance, longer commutes resulting from housing relocation may lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions, or the availability of climate-friendly food products is contingent on the grocery stores near the home’s location. This empirical knowledge highlights how policies targeting food, mobility or housing can have far-reaching effects in multiple consumption domains.

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All international agreements recognise that sustainable development, equity and poverty alleviation are preconditions for the substantial societal and technological transformations required to limit global warming to 1.5°C. A growing body of literature indicates that while climate change undermines the progress of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), climate actions also pose several trade-offs with them. Climate adaptation has a largely synergistic relationship with SDGs across various socio-economic contexts. However, climate mitigation’s relationship with SDGs is far more complex. While the need to decarbonise is universal, the pathways to deliver deep decarbonisation vary across contexts and scales and are located within the local socio-economic realities besides local environmental factors. This paper argues that (1) climate mitigation measures in countries like India – with rising income inequality and high social diversity in caste, religion and region – need a tailored assessment approach, (2) carefully mediating climate mitigation measures – like deep decarbonisation – at the local level is crucial to enable transformative change required to meet the Paris Agreement and the UN Agenda 2030, (3) enabling ‘just’ deep decarbonisation or SDG-enabled decarbonisation at the local level requires addressing unmet needs of the vulnerable population even at the cost of increased emissions, and (4) sector-specific decarbonisation strategies at the national level must be translated into the local area’s social, economic, environmental and institutional realities. This paper grounds this approach using the example of the transport sector and applies it in a mid-sized city of India, Udaipur, to illustrate the argument.

Open access

This piece elaborates on a ‘new way of thinking’ (Einstein, 1946) that would contribute to overcoming the challenge of climate change and its impacts. This ‘new way’ will have us go beyond using facts and figures alone to persuade and cajole. It will have us stretching our moral imagination (Johnson, 2016) and empathising with people very different from ourselves. It will have us investing in processes of exchange which support the co-creation of knowledge and the future we want together.

Open access