Feb 25

Manchester as a Low Carbon Economic Area. 3 Experts Give Their Views at LCEA Event

Greater Manchester LCEA event – Feb 2011

I have been meaning to write this post since I went to the event and now I have the presentations through to help me!

I am really excited about the concept of LCEAs (Low Carbon Economic Areas) especially after this event with such knowlegable speakers.

The event was all about how best to encourage people how to adopt energy saving measures in their homes.

Here’s What I Learned:

Pres 1: Greater Manchester – Low Carbon Economic Area

Tim Barwood (Energy Saving Trust)

Manchester’s goal as a LCEA is to be a world leader in low carbon by 2015.

There are 6 areas to work on:

1. Residential retrofit

2. Non- residential retrofit

3. New Developments

4. Heat & Power Distribution

5. Living Laboratory

6. Skills & Employment

Work Package 1. Domestic Retrofit (Topic of the day)

The target for this scheme is to reduce CO2 emissions in the domestic sector in Manchester by 26% by 2015. This is to be accomplished by ‘basic energy efficiency measures’, ‘eco-upgrades’ and giving every home a Smart Meter. In depth behaviour change advice will also be offered across Manchester – this will be critical in the success of the programme.

Work has begun on behaviour change campaigns for basic energy efficiency measures – meet Mr Toast:

On the ‘eco-upgrades’ front Manchester have received £5M for Social Housing Retrofit Projects from the ERDF (Europe) and there was talk of a ‘Green Deal’ where Mancunians could receive £6,500 per household for domestic retrofit.

Pres 2. Effective Behaviour Change

Dr Sabine Pahl (Plymouth University)

People find it hard to grasp the fact that climate change is happening:

Its better to give local scenarios such as local flooding, using vivid images of the likely effects of climate change on people eg. blistering of the skin after intense UV exposure and making the impacts immediate eg. picture of the amount of CO2 produced by a school in 1 year.

Source: Tatebe, Shaw & Sheppard, 2010

Source: Pahl & Bauer, in revision

CO2 global warming demo


Did you know? ‘Brown appliances’ eg. Games consoles, TVs etc. use more energy than lighting, refrigeration, cooking and wet appliances!

Adding heat controls and Smart Metres doesn’t automatically reduce energy use.

Making the invisible Visible

‘Making the invisible visible’ has been shown to affect behaviour in some studies.

For example using thermal imaging both outside and inside the home.

Control groups and evaluation are essential to measure success. Set specific target outcomes, identify target groups, evaluate outcomes.

Pres 3. Retrofit and Behaviour Change

Prof. Erik Bichard (Salford University)

There is a high degree of acceptance that Climate Change is a personal responsibility, yet the motivation to reduce energy consumption is weak.

Possible solutions: legislation, grants/ subsidies, education and awareness, incentivisation.

Behaviour change is central to public policy and changing the contect is likely to have success!

Recent studies which found that ‘We are all responsible’ is now the top answer for UK residents when asked what they think about climate change. However the vast majority (75%) can’t see how they can make a difference.

Reasons for inaction include: ‘I won’t if you won’t’ attitude , people feel the UK is only a tiny part of the problem, people think the government should fix it, people think the problem is overstated..

Surveys have shown that on average households would be willing to invest £500 in domestic climate change measures.

Recommendations for behaviour change (flooding): Better and more innovative communication around flooding, make it easier for people to know what to buy and how to obtain and fit flood protection, community champions, celebrity campaign (credible celebrity), let everyone know the state is not going to protect against flooding.

Rewards (Incentives):

Survey results – which low carbon rewards would be best?

1. Vouchers for fruit and veg

2. Free meals at restaurants

3. Entertainment tickets

4. Leisure and health centres

5. Free bus travel

The 3,000 green groups including the 250 Transition town groups are important! Interaction with peers can help overcome objections.

Are the people you are communicating with pioneers, prospectors or settlers?

Summary: Better education, better awareness (of risks), innovative incentives and active and inclusive community groups are key!

Final thoughts:

This was a great seminar. Behaviour change is key.

Do you have any suggestions for how to change peoples behaviour in relation to action on climate change? Please leave a comment.

Thanks for reading!


PS. I would again like to Credit: Tim Barwood, Dr Sabine Pahl and Prof Erik Bichard, essentially this is a summary of their presentations!


  1. Ian Pettigrew


    I like the post and I found it interesting to find out what is happening in such an important area.

    I know you’ve already got a long reading list, but one that I’d really suggest adding is Switch by Chip & Dan Heath as it is full of ideas and case studies that I think could be helpful. I reviewed the book a while ago and some of the key themes are:

    – Identify success stories where good things are happening and do more of them.
    – set a clear compelling vision that helps identify what we need to do on a day-to-day basis
    – make sure that you engage people on an emotional level and not just with facts and figures
    – make it easy to do the right thing and to adopt new habits

    With what I see happening with regards to climate change, I don’t think we have the luxury of loads of time to change slowly!

  2. Joe White

    Hi Ian,

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment. You are right about my reading list, I could do with taking a speedreading course soon, seriously.

    What I didn’t mention in the post was that after the presentations there was a consultation session. There is a consultation going on which I believe finishes today and a report is being produced. I should be notified when that’s published and I will keep you abreast of what’s going on since you seem interested!

    What I got from the day is the key thing (and the most challenging) is changing peoples psychology which certainly ties in with the book.

    If I get time, I’ll read the book!


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