Global climate change can be affected by even the smallest of changes, when applied on a grand scale. Indeed, the way a society frames climate change issues — through acceptance or through skepticism — can greatly impact the content of environmental legislation. Framing as a mechanism of change can be seen through England’s decision to positively frame environmental issues, notably by creating a national identity as a ‘green and pleasant land.’ As a result of this positive framing, many of England’s citizens have decided to endorse and uphold greener and more sustainable practices.
The UK’s Office of National Statistics recently released a study that found that average household energy consumption in both countries fell by a quarter between 2005 and 2011. The results of the study certainly supports up the positive, pro-environment trend that is present in Wales and England.
Officially, the Office of National Statistics linked the decline to a few select factors:
New household improvements that increased the efficiency of energy consumption. These include better loft and cavity insulation, as well as more efficient lighting.
Energy rating scales for properties and household appliances. These scales allow consumers to make more informed decisions about their purchases, and pushes corporations to make more energy efficient products
Improved efficiency of gas boilers and condensing boilers. These new improvements supply civilians with both efficiently-generated hot water and central heating.
Increased gas and electricity prices in the UK in almost all years within the study’s time frame. The increased prices forced many families to cut their energy bills in order to save money in an already tight economy.
Increased public awareness and acceptance of energy consumption and environmental issues.
The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) found that domestic homes use upwards of a third of all the energy that the country consumes. The decline in energy consumption between 2005 and 2011 resulted in at least an 8% decrease in overall energy use for the country. This is not insignificant, especially since the UK is still busy decreasing their emissions to below 2010 levels by 2020.
Interestingly, the factors that the Office discovered can be applied to many developed countries. New households improvements, increased energy efficiency, and the implementation of energy rating scales have all been proven to be effective in decreasing energy use. Indeed, many developed countries have created measures that improve these exact factors within their societies.
Perhaps, then, the next step for these countries is to further improve public acceptance and awareness of these environmental issues. However, with the US and other countries being torn between climate change supporters and climate change deniers, this step may be much harder to implement than expected.
Jerico is an English and Creative Writing student at the University of Toronto. He believes strongly in technology’s potential to reverse the damage that’s been done to the environment – if we can only cooperate as a global community! He hopes that, by writing progressive and informed articles, he too can make a difference in his community.