Not enough is being done to encourage Europeans to live greener lifestyles, says a report recently published by the European Commission (EC).
The report, a review of the EU’s current policies, is entitled ‘Green Behavior’ and particularly piques interest due to its focus on the psychology of human behavior within environmentalism.
The review has concluded that, whilst many people may hold a concern for the environment, this is not, for the most part, mirrored in their daily activities.
The report does not recommend an increase in legislation as a means by which to move people into greener ways of living. On the contrary, the Commission has warned that forcing citizens to act on the environment through fear of prosecution may have the opposite impact.
Environmentalism is traditionally and necessarily a civic discipline demanding voluntary participation, to replace this ‘third sector’ element may put a negative spin on what is already a difficult sell. Further taxes amidst a debt crisis would be incredibly unpopular, not to mention the cost of policing an authoritarian environmental policy.
Rather, the review recommends financial incentives such as tax relief and the general creation of circumstances that naturally encourage green investment and behavior on the ground.
Those countries who ascended to EU membership in 2004 are particularly behind in terms of community environmental projects, in countries such as Poland and Slovakia such projects are few and far between.
The EC report has highlighted the extreme complexity of changing human behavior and the need to strike a balance between policy and practicality.
Translating policy into practice is particularly a problem with environmentalism since without necessary community involvement, the subject can appear almost purely academic. Further encouragement of loft insulation has been recommended, with some EU countries already offering subsidization to households and businesses wishing to insulate their properties and conserve the energy that they already use.
Further incentives and education could well see the issue of climate change become common currency – perhaps an unpopular phrase in the Euro-zone at the moment.
The European Commission can but recommend changes in policy, it is the responsibility of governments to act and implement projects that encourage citizens to play a part in helping bring about healthier and greener communities.
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