Publication - Progress report

Draft climate change plan: draft third report on policies and proposals 2017-2032

Published: 19 Jan 2017
Energy and Climate Change Directorate
Part of:
Environment and climate change

Draft of the climate change plan, the third report on proposals and policies (RPP3) for meeting Scotland’s annual greenhouse gas emissions targets.

175 page PDF

1.9 MB

175 page PDF

1.9 MB

Draft climate change plan: draft third report on policies and proposals 2017-2032
15.2 Annex B: ISM

175 page PDF

1.9 MB

15.2 Annex B: ISM

Why behaviours are important

15.2.1 Understanding what influences people's behaviours is essential to delivering the outcomes in this Plan, and ultimately achieving our climate change ambitions. Many of the policies and proposals in the Plan will require individuals and households to change their behaviour in a way that will help achieve policy goals. For example, becoming less reliant on a car will only happen if individuals change to walking, cycling, public transport and car sharing. It is therefore important to understand why people behave in the way they do, in order to design policies that help people change their behaviours.

Influencing low carbon behaviours

15.2.2 Incorporating behavioural considerations in policies requires insight and understanding of how people's choices and behaviours are influenced. People's everyday behaviours are influenced in various ways - within the values and attitudes that we hold, the habits we have learned, the people around us, and the tools and infrastructure available to us in our day-to-day lives. To influence behaviours successfully, a package of interventions, that takes account of the wider aspects of daily lives, will achieve better outcomes.

The ISM approach

15.2.3 The Scottish Government commissioned the development of ISM: a practical tool designed to support behaviour change interventions, supported by a user guide Influencing Behaviours - Moving Beyond the Individual - A User Guide to the ISM Tool [81] , published in 2013.

15.2.4 ISM is based on theory and evidence which shows that three different contexts - the Individual, Social and Material - influence people's behaviours. The Individual level includes an individual's values, attitudes and skills, the Social context includes factors that influence us through networks, relationships and social norms, and the Material context covers factors like infrastructure, technologies and regulations.

15.2.5 By understanding the different contexts and the multiple factors within them that influence the way people act, more effective policies and interventions can be developed. One of the key principles is that interventions should take account of the multiple influences across these contexts, I, S and M, in order to achieve long-lasting change.

15.2.6 The ISM model highlights 18 key factors/influences on people's choices and behaviours, seen in the picture below, a head (the individual), in a circle (social context) in a square (material factors).

The ISM Model

The ISM Model

15.2.7 ISM can help us understand the range of factors which are influencing specific behaviours and generate ideas for how policy can better influence them. For example using an ISM approach can help us:

  • understand what factors influence a behaviour we want to change
  • understand why behaviour change has happened (or is not happening)
  • consider a behaviour in a new way
  • design and develop behaviour change policy and interventions

15.2.8 Questions ISM has helped consider include:

  • 'What factors will influence ..' e.g. whether people buy or rent an energy efficient property
  • 'How can we..' e.g. increase the uptake of electric vehicles by the public
  • 'Why people do or do not' e.g. participate in recycling in (specific disadvantaged communities in Edinburgh)
  • 'What are the barriers …' e.g. to the uptake of nitrogen use efficiency practices in Scottish agriculture

ISM approach in the Climate Change Plan

15.2.9 The Scottish Government used ISM workshops to consider the factors that influence the behavioural aspects of the Second Report on Policies and Proposals ( RPP2), looking at policy areas including uptake of electric vehicles, solid wall insulation and fuel efficient driving. This work has continued and, in 2016, we initiated a programme of work to ensure that consideration of influences on behaviours is embedded in the Climate Change Plan. The programme should help us understand the influences on behaviours in order to inform the design of interventions to help people change those behaviours.

15.2.10 Workshops have been held to investigate behavioural challenges in a range of areas, including the demand for energy efficient housing for two stakeholder groups, efficient use of heating controls, increasing physical activity through walking and factors that influence woodland creation. Some of these workshops were for initial policy scoping by Scottish Government officials and others involved a range of stakeholders. Further workshops will include the urban school run and sustainable food production.

15.2.11 The ISM approach has been used in various ways to support policy development, including:

  • Running smaller workshops to initially explore behaviours, current behaviours landscapes (drilling down into the behaviours and looking at the evidence we have on the behaviour and how this fits within ISM framework), and identifying key stakeholders. This insight helps frame the ISM workshop with key stakeholders.
  • Delivering ISM workshops with broad groups of stakeholders. The aim of the workshop is to gather wider views on behavioural challenge, investigating the current landscape and identifying potential barriers and gaps.
  • Following up the ISM workshops with a small working group approach focused on action planning and delivery, using insight (potential barriers and gaps) from initial workshops.
  • Using the ISM framework to support literature reviews of the behavioural challenge.

15.2.12 We will test the ISM approach later in 2017 as a potential way to engage the public on policies and policy development. Building on the initial housing workshops (which brought together a range of key stakeholders) we are developing an ISM style workshop to engage the public on the same behaviour. The aim is to bring together a small group of members of the public to supplement the initial ISM workshop findings with a public point of view.

15.2.13 Experience of using the ISM approach, across a range of policy areas has highlighted benefits including:

  • providing greater understanding of the wide range of factors that will impact on successful delivery of policies
  • giving clarity on the areas to be targeted and prioritised
  • highlighting the relative importance of different factors in effecting change and using these as levers to change. In particular, the importance of considering the social context in delivering and developing policies.

15.2.14 Using the ISM approach across emissions reductions policy areas will support the implementation of policies and proposals in the Climate Change Plan, and delivery of policy outcomes.

Text box 15-2: ISM Workshop

ISM Housing Policy Workshop: engaging householders with their heating controls

The workshop focused on how to encourage householders to use their heating efficiently through heating controls. It included a diverse range of stakeholders covering energy efficiency scheme management and delivery, energy advice, utility companies, installers, heating control manufacturers and policy makers. The ISM model results generated at the workshop are included below.

Individual factors which were highlighted as barriers to adopting careful management of heating using heating controls include: lack of confidence with new systems, lack of clear advice materials, and a belief by householders that use will not have an impact on bills.

Social factors highlighted include the social expectations regarding heating the home, an assumption by key stakeholders that standard technologies are understood and a perception that this action is less important than other ways to save energy.

Material factors highlighted include the need for less complicated technology and the need for follow up after installation.

The highlighted a number of areas where we could take action.

Some ideas and solutions generated at the workshop include:

1. Change meanings around heating controls to make their use important and relevant to all.
2. Promote heating control use in general via agencies, media etc.
3. Develop case studies/examples on impacts and changes arising from engagement.
4. Develop useful assessments of cost savings.
5. Promote message about comfort and control (not just bill saving).
6. Develop bespoke, tailored advice.
7. Promote manufacturer and installer links to wider support agencies.
8. Encourage installers to increase use of heating controls.
9. Make controls advice/engagement part of gas safety checks.


Email: Kirsty Lewin

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
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