Harnessing Behavioural Science to Support the Transition to Net Zero

February 27 2024

The achievement of Northern Ireland’s ambitious net zero targets will require behaviour change at the individual, community and societal level.

This symposium event will examine how we might harness behavioural science to achieve our net zero targets. It will include contributions from expert leaders in the behavioural science field.

Head of the NI Civil Service, Dr Jayne Brady will introduce the session with closing remarks from DAERA Permanent Secretary, Katrina Godfrey.

During the session we will hear from:

Toby Park, of the renowned Behavioural Insights Team – the world’s first government institution dedicated to the application of behavioural science, which aims to improve social and environmental outcomes through practical and innovative solutions.

Jo Davan Wetton – Senior Research Fellow, University College London, Centre for Behaviour Change

Professor Patrick Devine-Wright - Director of Advancing Capacity for Climate and Environment Social Science, University of Exeter

Professor Peter Lunn - Head of the Economic & Social Research Institute, Behavioural Research Unit and Adjunct professor in the Department of Economics at Trinity College Dublin

Event Context

The Climate Change Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 sets a series of ambitious targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Northern Ireland, culminating in the achievement of net zero by 2050.

The Act places a legal requirement on all NI departments to exercise their functions in a manner consistent with the targets of the Act and the carbon budgets set under it.  It also includes a series of interim targets:  For 2030 there must be at least a 48% reduction in greenhouse gases; at least 80% of electricity consumption from renewable sources; at least 70% of waste recycled and 10% of transport budgets to be committed to active travel, like walking or cycling, by 2030.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is coordinating aspects of the cross departmental and cross sectoral delivery of key elements of the Act, notably by developing 5 yearly Climate Action Plans with input from stakeholders and other departments.

Achieving the mandatory targets contained in this Act will involve action on many levels, leading to significant societal change and new norms.  This will require behaviour change at the individual, community and societal level.

According to the UK Climate Change Committee’s ‘balanced pathway to Net Zero’, 53% of the required emissions reductions depend on the adoption of clean heating, electric vehicles, smarter technologies and home energy efficiency improvements.  Behaviour change, driven by policy and other interventions, will be essential in facilitating widespread adoption of these clean technologies. Adopting these clean technologies are behaviours, and behaviours are influenced by policies and interventions.  A further 9% requires lifestyle behavioural changes – for example less meat and dairy, more active and public transport, fewer flights and less waste.  Even the other 38% ‘supply side’ changes to industry and energy infrastructure will depend on public consent for things like transmission lines, wind turbines, public expenditure and demand for strong policy.

Event Schedule & Booking Details

This event will open at 9.00am with registration and networking; the opening address will take place at 9.30am.  The formal event will conclude at 1.00pm, and all the speakers will be available over a networking lunch from 1.00 - 2.00pm.

The event is free of charge to CEF members and can be booked by clicking on the REGISTER button below and enter the password 'topcat' when prompted.

If for any reason, you can no longer attend, please let us know.