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Behaviour Change

Progress in Reducing Emissions Report

In the 2022 Progress in Reducing Emissions report by Climate Change Committee, it was stated that 62% of actions needed to abate carbon emissions by 2035 involve some form of behaviour change. That 62% can be further divided into two categories:

  • 47% involve making choices that affect both demand and supply: consumers and businesses making lower-carbon choices that involve new low-carbon technology such as driving an electric car or installing a heat pump instead of a gas boiler.
  • 15% pertains to primarily demand-side choices that go beyond a switch to low-carbon technologies, such as shifting towards healthier and lower-carbon diets, reducing growth in aviation demand, shifting to lower-carbon goods and choosing products that last longer and therefore improve resource efficiency.

Low Carbon Scotland: A Behaviours Framework

In 2013, the Scottish Government published: Low Carbon Scotland: A Behaviours Framework, which forms the basis of subsequent strategies by outlining four behaviour change targets: home energy, transport, food, and consumption of goods and services.

Individual, Social, Material Tool

Alongside the Behaviours Framework, the Scottish Government launched a behaviour change tool called ISM (Individual, Social, Material). The ISM framework brings together main concepts from across the principal academic disciplines, and turns them into a practical tool to be used throughout the policy-making process. The main concept being that interventions need to influence a person’s individual, social and material context in order to achieve substantive and long lasting change. There is an accompanying technical guide for a more thorough explanation of the underlying theory and the different factors within ISM. SSN’s own ISM website contains other resources such as a report on ‘ISM and the public sector’ and a presentation by Andrew Darnton, who developed ISM for the Scottish Government.

COM-B Model

The COM-B model is another well-known behaviour change tool which is founded on the principle that behaviour (B) has three components: Capability (C), Opportunity (O) and Motivation (M). There are many parallels between the COM-B model and the ISM Framework.

More information

In October 2022, SSN in collaboration with the Scottish Government and Improvement Services held a Behaviour Change Workshop. The event write up includes a summary of each speaker with accompanying slides, and useful links towards the end.

Individual, Social and Material (ISM) Framework