Behavioural Climate Change Mitigation: from individual energy choices to demand-side potential

Leila Niamir

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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Climate change is one of the major global environmental challenges faced by humanity in the 21st century. Global carbon emissions from fossil fuels stand at almost 37 GtCO2 per year and have grown by an average of 2.4% per year so far this century. Among these, households – directly and indirectly – are responsible for more than 70% of carbon emissions. Hence, decarbonization of the economy requires massive worldwide efforts and a strong involvement of regions, cities, businesses, and individuals in addition to commitments at national levels. In the last few years, the discussions about mitigation strategies stress the importance of demand-side solutions and shifts to transdisciplinary and bottom-up approaches in assisting climate mitigation efforts worldwide. The IPCC Special Report on 1.5 degrees names ‘behavioural and lifestyle changes’ as a vital climate change mitigation strategy complimentary to technological measures. Yet, despite behavioural change being emphasized as a crucial component of mitigation strategies worldwide, empirical studies on individual energy-related choices and behavioural factors impacting them are scarce. Individual energy behaviour, especially when amplified through social context, shapes energy demand and, consequently, carbon emissions. By changing their behaviours, individuals can play an essential role in the transformation process towards a low-carbon society and global emissions reduction. However, explaining and affecting human behaviour is a difficult task since human nature is complex and heterogeneous. As a result, quantitative tools to assess cumulative household emissions, given the diversity of behaviour and a variety of psychological and social factors influencing it beyond purely economic considerations, are scarce.
This dissertation highlights the potential of behavioural changes among heterogeneous households regarding energy use and their role in mitigating climate change. To do so, (a) a comprehensive household survey is designed and conducted to explore how individuals choose to change their energy behaviour and what factors trigger or inhibit these choices; (b) simulation tools are designed and developed to aggregate these insights and quantitatively assess regional and national impacts of individual choices on carbon emissions; and (c) a novel method to upscale individual energy behaviour for climate change mitigation strategies is presented.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Filatova, T., Supervisor
  • Bressers, Hans T.A., Supervisor
  • Voinov, Alexey Arkady, Co-Supervisor
Award date1 Feb 2019
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-365-4712-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • Climate change mitigation
  • Agent-based modeling (ABM)
  • Energy demand
  • Energy efficiency
  • Energy economics
  • Household consumption
  • Household adoption decisions
  • Energy policy
  • Policies
  • Simulation
  • Survey data
  • Empirical data


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