“The road to hell is paved with good intentions” is a well-known phrase that highlights the principle that there is no merit in good intentions unless they are acted on. If more sustainably designed housing, neighbourhoods and cities are provided for populations to live in, is there a capacity within individuals and households in high income societies such as Australia to actually live more sustainable, low carbon lives; that is, to behave more sustainably and reduce their ecological footprints? And in the process make earth’s finite resources more widely available to others (distributive equality)?
This chapter has examined the unsustainable and unequal pattern of resource consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that characterise cities in high income developed societies, such as Australia. They are slow burn issues (aka ‘boiling frog’)—gradual but cumulative processes. A picture of the future (i.e. fifty years hence) consequences of climate change, resource depletion, population growth and environmental degradation is now apparent but still largely unacknowledged by those living in the present— a shunning of the central Brundtland sustainable development principle. This chapter has provided clear evidence that there are significant gaps in respect of resource consumption generally (and energy in particular) when performance metrics related to dwelling design, dwelling construction and dwelling operation are compared. This significantly inhibits current attempts to create more sustainable built environments that provide the context within which urban populations can attempt to live more sustainable, low carbon lives.
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Ethics and Morality in Consumption : Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Australians have world leading levels of urban resource consumption and carbon emissions – an unsustainable position in the 21 st century. Survey research at the Centre for Urban Transitions reveals that the known determinants of our large urban ecological footprints are...Read more
Many established homes (most Australian homes) perform quite poorly in terms of energy efficiency and other resource use. Home renovation is a key point at which sustainability could be improved as people have already decided to spend money on renovation (some $32b a year...Read more
In order to better target government climate change policies to influence citizens, it is critical that we have a good understanding of current community attitudes to climate change. In late 2016, Sustainability Victoria undertook one of the most comprehensive surveys of...Read more
This article analyzes data from a major household survey in Melbourne, Australia, to assess the relative importance of each of the five sets of predictors—individual (structural and attitudinal) and contextual (household, dwelling, and locational)—to an explanation of urban resource consumption that encompasses water, energy, housing, carbon-intensive travel, and domestic appliances.
Explores the prospect for winding back current levels of household consumption in high income societies.Growth in human consumption is the transcending problem of our times. In the short span of 50 years, high income societies have shifted from an era when a 'simple life' was the norm to one where...
Many Australians are happy to declare their interest in sustainability, to reducing their environmental impact. But how many of them are prepared to reduce the amount they actually consume?This article looks at the Australian households and an identified “attitude-action gap” on environment and consumption. This gap between intentions and action is a...