Application of An Innovative Interview Technique For Exploring Households' Adaptation Strategies in Reducing Co2 Emissions From Transport

Application of An Innovative Interview Technique For Exploring Households' Adaptation Strategies in Reducing Co2 Emissions From Transport


A Bristow, P Balmforth, M Tight, T May, ITS, University of Leeds; A Pridmore, Capita Symonds, UK



Climate change is an internationally recognised problem. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most important greenhouse gas and is projected to account for around 70% of radiative forcing of climate by the end of the century. CO2 accounts for 96% of greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector. In the UK the transport sector accounts for around 26% of CO2 emissions and is the fastest growing source.

This paper reports results from a project funded by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. The project explored behavioural response and life style change in moving to low carbon transport futures. The four key aims of the project were to:

*Determine targets for CO2 reduction in the UK transport sector and within this specifically for land based personal transport.
*Develop strategies for personal land based transport which could reach these targets.
*Develop a computer based survey tool to explore the adaptation strategies of households in response to the measures identified above in order to meet targets for carbon reduction and to implement the survey methodology on an experimental basis.
*Analyse household preferences for adaptive strategies in order to identify those policies that would be most likely to move society towards a low carbon transport future.

An earlier paper to the European Transport Conference 2003 considered the necessary reductions in emissions and the role both technological and behavioural means would play in achieving these reductions. This paper focuses on the latter two aims, outlining the development and functionality of the computer based survey tool and its use in a set of exploratory interviews with households investigating the measures they would be most willing to adopt in order to significantly reduce their CO2 emissions from transport.

The aim of the interviews was to determine the changes the household would make to their travel behaviour under:

*Prevailing conditions
*A policy scenario which included improvements to public transport, walking and cycling facilities and the introduction of traffic restraint measures

The computer based survey tool enabled a household to examine its emissions as a whole and as individuals and to experiment with different ways of reducing emissions and receiving comparative feedback. The program worked out emissions internally based on distance and mode. Additional considerations for private transport were the model and age of vehicle, the driving cycle and whether the journeys were shared. For public transport the type of vehicle and whether the journey was made in the peak or off-peak was also taken into account. Key features of the software developed are:

*Conversion of vehicle or passenger kilometres into CO2 emissions based on vehicle type and context.
*Visual display of summary data by mode, individual, household and day of week basis.
*Visual display of disaggregate data on timing, mode and emissions for each trip for a day at a time for all individuals within the household.
*Facility to amend or remove journeys allowing members of the household to alter the mode, timing and distance for any trip.
*For edited journeys CO2 emissions were automatically updated.
*Time saving measures included the ability to copy journeys from one day to another and from one household member to another.
*The use of flags, for example where trips are linked or two or more people travel together, the software will not allow a change that is not logical.

The interviews began with the household being shown their current weekly household carbon emissions based on travel diary information broken down by person. They were also given two target emissions (related to a 60% reduction in UK transport emissions). The aim of the interview was for the households to reach these targets. The members of the households were interviewed together and had the opportunity for a full and frank discussion of where any cuts in travel may be made. Their reasoning was recorded.

Fifteen households were interviewed reflecting the experimental nature of this phase of the project. Households who could envisage a change tended to favour the following solutions .

*Walk instead of car
*Cycle if there were less traffic
*Use public transport instead of car if reliable and/ or cheaper
*Telecommute if employer would accept it
*Trip combining
*Use of households most fuel efficient car

These households tended to have a level of environmental awareness and a willingness to change. Respondents found the visual output informative in revealing the number of short trips made by car or in illustrating the gap between current emissions and the targets.

However there were households for whom change in the current circumstances was not seen as possible: visiting family members in remote areas, transporting heavy items, and trips for leisure. These households tended to be more reluctant to make changes under the policy change scenario as well.

Households were also asked about technological change and were willing to try new power mechanisms (for example fuel cells) and new fuels (for example hydrogen). A price premium for a more environmentally friendly vehicle was not popular but where linked to operating costs savings the attraction grew.

The household surveys suggest that certain households have a willingness to change their travel behaviour and the measures they require are on the whole supported through current transport policy. What is therefore needed is to ensure that these policies can be implemented. In addition ?sticks? such as road pricing schemes are likely to be necessary. In terms of reaching targets the results suggest that it would be difficult even under supportive scenarios to achieve a 60% reduction in carbon emissions from transport. This suggests a high level of dependency on technological solutions, where there is still a high level of uncertainty on delivery. This matches our findings from earlier phases of the research.


Association for European Transport