The effectiveness of using carbon footprint calculator to increase students' awareness and motivation to adopt a low-carbon lifestyle
AffiliationOffice for Environmental Programs
Document TypeMasters Coursework thesis
Access StatusOnly available to University of Melbourne staff and students, login required
© 2016 Nehemia Gurusinga
Carbon footprint calculators (CFC) reveal individuals’ contribution to climate change and offer solutions on how to reduce carbon emissions. This research investigated how 15 teenagers in Indonesia, aged 17-18 years, responded to an intervention that aimed to make students aware and motivated to embrace a low-carbon lifestyle. This research was conducted in 3 weeks with a combined intervention including the use of CFC and semi-structured interviews in the beginning and at the end of the period. In between, an element of social interaction was inserted, which was self-moderated focus group discussions (FGDs) of two gender exclusive groups. Total students’ emission was reduced from 110,977.33 gram CO2-eq/capita/day in Test 1 to 94,543.77 gram CO2-eq/capita/day in Test 2. On average, individual carbon emissions were reduced by 1,095.57 gram CO2-eq/capita/day. The qualitative data were generated from the transcriptions of the interviews after Test 1 and Test 2 as well as the FGDs. Using deductive coding, thematic analysis was used to explain how the combined intervention worked to influence the students’ belief and awareness about climate change; and how effective the combined intervention was on influencing the students’ behaviour towards a low-carbon lifestyle. The results show that the combined use of CFC and group discussion enabled: (a) some students to generate new conceptions about climate change including “carbon emissions relate to cost of living” and “carbon emissions can be counted and reduced by changing daily activities”; (b) some students to realise the advantages of reducing carbon emissions and disadvantages of not taking action to reduce carbon emissions; (c) most of the students to do some “little” actions to reduce carbon emissions. This research suggests that the inclusion of the participant discussion in the application of a CFC was crucial in increasing the effectiveness of the intervention through “social comparison” and “active debates”. Participant discussion enabled the students to localise climate change issues and identify solutions that suit their current local context and condition. When the CFC recommended solutions were deemed not suitable for their respective conditions, most students expressed apathy for particular actions and spoke about the existing barriers that hinder the students to adopt the recommendations. In particular, some students with a high-emissions level were motivated to reduce carbon emissions after knowing that their emissions were much higher than their friends. The social interactions also created a possibility for the emergence of a social model who inspired other students to embrace an action to reduce emissions while saving fuel expense. These findings could support the development of environmental education strategies with young people.
Keywordscarbon footprint calculator; emission reduction; environmental psychology; environmental education
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