Willingness to Reduce Travel Consumption to Support a Low-Carbon Transition Beyond COVID-19

61 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2020 Last revised: 28 Nov 2020

See all articles by Tanya O'Garra

Tanya O'Garra

Economics Department, Middlesex University

Roger Fouquet

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Date Written: October 27, 2020

Abstract

This paper explores people’s willingness to reduce travel consumption in support of the transition to a low-carbon pathway beyond COVID-19 using new survey data from UK car drivers and air travellers. Over half (56%) of the car users and 45% of the air travellers surveyed are willing to reduce the amount travelled by car and plane respectively beyond COVID-19, potentially leading to annual reductions of 486-551 kgCO2 per car driver (20.2%-22.9% of current car emissions) and 225-354 kgCO2 per air traveller (9.7%-15.3% of current emissions from flying). There is little difference in relative reductions across the income distribution, and regressions show that neither income nor annual distance travelled influence voluntary travel reductions. However, because the rich consume and pollute substantially more than the rest, behaviour associated with affluence represents a major barrier to a low-carbon transition. We find that stated voluntary reductions are greater among those who report having ‘more time to do creative things’ during the COVID-19 lockdown; negative personal experiences from COVID-19 have no effect on stated reductions. This paper concludes that recovery policies that stimulate low-carbon leisure time may be a key to consumption reductions. However, policies must address overconsumption associated with affluence as a priority.

Keywords: consumption, travel, carbon emissions, preferences, travel reductions, COVID-19

JEL Classification: Q54, Q58, R41

Suggested Citation

O'Garra, Tanya and Fouquet, Roger, Willingness to Reduce Travel Consumption to Support a Low-Carbon Transition Beyond COVID-19 (October 27, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3720195 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3720195

Tanya O'Garra (Contact Author)

Economics Department, Middlesex University ( email )

The Burroughs
London, NW4 4BT
United Kingdom

Roger Fouquet

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
Great Britain

HOME PAGE: http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/profile/roger-fouquet/

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