Beyond Technology: Demand-Side Solutions for Climate Change Mitigation

By Felix Creutzig, Blanca Fernandez, Helmut Haberl, Radhika Khosla, Yacob Mulugetta, and Karen C Seto
Annual Review of Environment and Resources , 1 November 2016

The assessment literature on climate change solutions to date has emphasized technologies and options based on cost-effectiveness analysis. However, many solutions to climate change mitigation misalign with such analytical frameworks. Here, we examine demand-side solutions, a crucial class of mitigation options that go beyond technological specification and cost benefit analysis. To do so, we synthesize demand-side mitigation options in the urban, building, transport, and agricultural sectors. We also highlight the specific nature of demand-side solutions in the context of development. We then discuss key analytical considerations to integrate demand-side options into overarching assessments on mitigation. Such a framework would include infrastructure solutions that interact with endogenous preference formation. Both hard infrastructures, such as the built environment, and soft infrastructures, such as habits and norms, shape behavior and as a consequence offer significant potential for reducing overall energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions. We conclude that systemic infrastructural and behavioral change will likely be a necessary component of a transition to a low-carbon society.

Suggested Citation: Creutzig F, Fernandez B, Haberl H, Khosla R, Mulugetta Y, Seto KC. 2016. Beyond Technology: Demand-Side Solutions for Climate Change Mitigation, Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Vol. 41. pp 173-198