Consumer Behavior and Energy Policy: An International Perspective

By Eric Monnier; George Gaskell et al. | Go to book overview

Many roadblocks to innovation come from established institutions within local government bureaucracy. Politicians can command cooperation, but these case studies of innovative communities help illustrate why real change in community energy behavior has taken so long. Recruiting new staff or creating new cross-administrative coordinating groups are other tools that can be used to help break down the barriers to change.


THE LIMITS TO INNOVATION

Local innovation naturally has its limits. Communities cannot take the risks a private enterprise can. Community change is therefore seldom revolutionary, as efforts must be considered both legitimate and realistic. Realistic optimism about the possibilities for local action to change energy behavior is based upon the potential released when a community employs its own special resources creatively. Davis took optimal advantage of existing citizens' groups to communicate its energy effort. Nysted exploited a local surplus of straw as a source of fuel, while Uppsala used its district heating statistics to identify energy wasters and mobilize them for energy conservation. Such examples show it is possible to take advantage of local features to solve the energy problems brought on by the oil crisis.

Other communities should not dismiss such special local approaches as irrelevant quirks inapplicable to their own situations, however. The most transferable lessons are just that. Local variation can provide the inspiration for seeing energy as a community problem requiring a community solution. Building on local motivations and resources is one way to make the necessary change to a different community approach to energy a little easier.


NOTES
1.
Among the exceptions is J. Ridgeway, 1979. Most studies are of several communities within a single country, such as Klingberg and Lindahl ( 1982) or Leyral and Monnier ( 1984). A truly comparative effort is Gaskell and Joerges (in press). Lindberg ( 1977) represents a rare example comparing national energy policies from a comparative perspective.
2.
Complete presentations of all case studies and references will be found in Woodward (forthcoming).

-95-

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