Low Carbon Scotland: behaviours framework

This framework outlines what we will do to drive and support the move to low carbon living in the lead-up to the first key climate change target in 2020.

What should people be doing differently?

Individuals and households account for 70% of Scotland’s consumption emissions. These break down into four key themes:


Estimated GHG emissions for Scottish Households. 2006

Consumption vs. production emissions

Production-based emissions are the emissions we generate domestically. These have gone down in Scotland over the past couple of decades because we have become more efficient in the use of energy and because the share of manufacturing in production has decreased.

Consumption-based emissions take into account all the emissions we are responsible for as consumers of the goods and services we buy including those we import in Scotland. These emissions have not decreased to the same extent as production-based emissions despite generally improving energy efficiency across the world because we are consuming more.

The Ten Key Behaviour Areas

These four themes (home energy, transport, food and consumption of goods and services) can be split down further into Ten Key Behaviour Areas (10 KBAs), highlighting where individuals and households can really make a difference at the present time. These were identified through the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Behaviour Research Programme ( CCBRP) in 2010, and are intended to guide policymakers and other influencers on where public engagement and influencing activity is of most value. The 10 KBAs are listed in full below.

For more detailed information on the ten key behaviours, please see:

Ten Key Behaviour Areas

Ten Key Behavour Areas

Why has influencing change been difficult so far?

Attempts at influencing low carbon behaviours in recent years have had some success, but the ‘sea change’ that is required hasn’t yet been triggered, and it is clear that something more is needed. Extensive research has been undertaken to consider what elements are missing, and how efforts might be improved in future.

This research suggests that many interventions to date have sought to influence people primarily at the individual level, and have not generally allowed for the broader contexts in which people are living and working. While the individual approach can have a valuable role in certain situations, this alone is unlikely to initiate the groundswell of change that is needed.

While previous interventions have often tackled behaviours in isolation from one another, low carbon living is about a lot more than just changing one behaviour. ‘Cherry-picking’ from the ten key behaviours is no longer an option. People must be influenced across multiple areas in order to achieve real change, and this involves creating a ‘low carbon package’ for people to take on board.

This is easier said than done. In 2008, the Scottish Environmental Attitudes and Behaviours Survey showed that almost half of people (45%) felt that recycling was the action that would most help reduce climate change. Many people believe they are ‘doing their bit’ for the environment through recycling and do not realise they need to do anything else [6] . Together, we need to build a better understanding of what ‘doing your bit’ really involves, and support more people to adopt and follow more of the ten key behaviours more often. We all have to dramatically change the way we live, work and travel as we move towards low carbon lifestyles.

"We all have to dramatically change the way we live, work and travel as we move towards low carbon lifestyles."

For more information on the drivers and barriers to behaviour change, see:
The 2011 Climate Change Behaviours Research Programme ( CCBRP) Update and the Main Findings from the CCBRP


Back to top