Household sizes in countries of the European Union have been declining steadily, and this trend is set to continue in the future. This is likely to ‘slow down’ reductions of per capita carbon emissions because it reduces economies of scale within households. It is important to understand these ‘reduction offsets’ in order to design effective carbon reduction policies.
This project will examine the role of declining household sizes for trends in per capita carbon emissions and other environmental impacts, using longitudinal and cross-sectional household expenditure datasets for EU countries, and input-output data on emissions and other environmental impacts. Qualitative expert interviews will be carried out to formulate policy recommendations, taking underlying sociological and demographic trends into account.
This project, therefore, seeks to make an original empirical and theoretical contribution to understanding the ways in which consumption-based emissions and environmental impacts are embedded within broader socio-cultural trends. Its policy recommendations will help to design more effective carbon reduction policies.
This fellowship will facilitate a unique two-way transfer of knowledge between the host, Dr Buchs, at the University of Leeds Sustainability Research Institute, and the ER, Dr Ivanova, from the Norwegian University of Technology and Science. Dr Ivanova, a trained economist, will contribute her skills in input-output carbon footprinting modelling and econometric analysis. She will gain new knowledge and skills in the sociological and mixed methods analysis of underlying trends of household emissions and environmental impacts, as advised by Dr Buchs who is an environmental social scientist.
The fellowship will equip Dr Ivanova with new knowledge, research and project management skills, enabling her to establish herself as an internationally recognised academic in this field and a connector between research, policy and civil society.
- Enhancing the future career prospects of the researcher after the fellowship
This fellowship will considerably enhance the ER’s prospects of obtaining a tenured academic position as it will evidence her ability to attract prestigious research funding, provide her with substantial research project management skills, and expand her knowledge and skills set. As discussed in more detail in section 1.2, this includes new research methods skills, understanding of social theory and its application to empirical results and theory development; policy analysis and communication of research findings to policymakers and practitioners to enhance the societal impact of research.
The fellowship will also generate at least three journal articles targeted at high ranking peer-reviewed journals which will substantially enhance Dr Ivanova’s prospects for interdisciplinary research and further academic and policy-related collaborations in the area of demand-side mitigation strategies. Furthermore, this fellowship would encourage Dr Ivanova to directly engage with policymakers and the public, thus, providing her with a valuable experience and translating research into policy and practice. This will be key to help establish Dr Ivanova as an ambassador for a multi-level change and a link between research, policymaking and civil society.
- Quality of the proposed measures to exploit and disseminate the project results
The new knowledge generated by this action will be disseminated in various ways to maximise academic and policy impact. Right from the start, the project will be featured on the research project pages hosted on the SRI website. This will be updated regularly to reflect progress. Social media presence will be achieved by regular updates on Twitter, ResearchGate and LinkedIn. Project results will be presented at internal research seminars of the SRI and the Priestly International Centre for Climate, as well as a minimum of three international conferences representing relevant disciplines e.g. of the Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Network (SCORAI), the European Network for Social Policy Analysis (ESPAnet); and the European Association for Population Studies.
Initial results from the quantitative analysis will be presented to a range of policy and practitioner forums specialised on sustainable living and social & family policy, for instance, the European Sustainable Cities Platform, the grassroots Transition Towns Network, and expert workshops of the European Network for Social Policy Analysis (ESPAnet). The feedback from these forums will shape guides for qualitative interviews with experts in these relevant fields to be analysed for policy recommendations on how to enhance greater resource sharing in households and cities in WP4.
Final project results will be published in high ranking peer-reviewed journals, covering various disciplinary angles such as Nature Sustainability, Global Environmental Change, and the Journal of European Social Policy, and open science platforms such as Zenodo. Accessible policy briefs will also be produced, one targeting EU and national policymakers, and a second targeting environmental third sector organisations which promote resource sharing in cities. The longitudinal and cross-sectional datasets on per capita environmental impacts which will be created by this action in WP1 will be offered for archiving to the UK Data Service.
- Quality of the proposed measures to communicate the project activities to different audiences
Project activities and results will be communicated to a range of different audiences: Academic. We will target different disciplinary audiences from environmental social sciences, input-output modelling, and demography, through the internet and social media presence, presentations at academic conferences and workshops, and publication of papers in high ranking journals as outlined in section 2.2.
Policymakers and third sector practitioners. We will disseminate project activities to policy and practitioner audiences specialised on sustainable living, and social and family policy as outlined under 2.2 through interactive workshops at expert and policy forums at international, national and local scales, and through accessibly written policy briefs and social media presence. The presentation of results from WP2 and WP3 to policymakers and third sector practitioners is an explicit step of our research strategy to inform qualitative policy analysis work undertaken in WP4 as outlined above.
Media and the wider public
Project activities will be disseminated to the wider public through press releases and the placing of articles and interviews on radio and TV programmes, supported by the University of Leeds Communications team. We will also publish accessibly written project summaries in The Conversation and Huffington Post, provide project updates through a podcast on the project website, and apply for a presentation at a Pint of Science event towards the end of the project.