Skip to main content
19th European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production – Circular Europe for Sustainability: Design, Production and Consumption

Full Program »

About the interplay of CARbon lock-in dimensions – the case of sustainable urban mobility behavior

On the road towards more sustainable consumption, especially the transport sector is a challenging factor as current mobility patterns are causing a significant share of greenhouse gas emissions (Berger et al. 2014). Everyday passenger travel is dominated by private transport in cars, where in 2016 car travel made up almost three quarters of total European passenger transport (Pastori et al. 2018). Although in other domains steps towards increased sustainability are on the rise, the favored mode of transport seems to be quite resistant to change. But why? Mobility behavior is subject to so-called carbon lock-in, where the current emission-intensive system characteristics are unsustainable and prevent other, more sustainable choices from becoming dominant through a cycle of self-reinforcing factors (Erickson et al. 2015, Ivanova et al. 2018). Traditionally, only the technological and institutional lock-in dimensions are taken into account when describing the situation of carbon lock-in. Yet, as literature reveals, there exists also an additional dimension of carbon lock-in related to behavior both in terms of individual as well as collective aspects, which is often not considered sufficiently (Seto et al. 2016). Therefore, this study aims at a better understanding of the interlinkages of all three dimensions and their respective consequences for everyday urban mobility choices from a consumer perspective. To investigate the influence of the different lock-in dimensions, empirical quantitative research in form of an online survey will be conducted, where a stratified random sample of urban and suburban areas in Austria will be drawn. In the following data analysis, multiple regression models will be applied to define how the different influencing factors are interrelated and to which extent they can explain respective mobility behavior as well as modal choice. Furthermore, a cluster analysis shall reveal different stages of carbon lock-in in terms of strength to be able to distinguish between different potential intervention strategies per type. Based on the literature findings, it is expected that consumers with comparable stages of technological or institutional lock-in can be subject to a variety of behavioral lock-in stages and psychological characteristics. As a consequence, policies considering only one aspect of carbon lock-in will not be sufficient, which is why measures have to acknowledge the interplay of all dimensions to enable behavior change. The outcome of this study shall give a more comprehensive understanding of these complex linkages of consumer carbon lock-in in terms of urban mobility and furthermore give policy insights how to tackle the problem to successfully escape the current unsustainable system and enable a transition towards low-carbon, sustainable mobility.

Berger, G., Feindt, P.H., Holden. E., Rubik, F. (2014). Sustainable Mobility – Challenges for a Complex Transition. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 16(3), 303-320. Erickson, P., Kartha, S., Lazarus, M., Tempest, K. (2015). Assessing carbon lock-in. Environmental Research Letters, 10(8), 1-7. Ivanova, D., Vita, G., Wood, R., Lausselet, C., Dumitru, A., Krause, K., Macsinga, I., Hertwich, E.G. (2018). Carbon mitigation in domains of high consumer lock-in. Global Environmental Change, 52, 117-130. Pastori, E., Brambilla, M., Maffii, S., Vergnani, R., Gualandi, E., Skinner, I. (2018). Research for TRAN Committee – Modal shift in European transport: a way forward, European Parliament, Policy Department for Structural and Cohesion Policies, Brussels Seto, K.C., Davis, S.J., Mitchell, R.B., Stokes, E.C., Unruh, G., Ürge-Vorsatz, D. (2016). Carbon Lock-In: Types, Causes, and Policy Implications. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 41, 425-452.

Annina Thaller
Institute of System Sciences, Innovation and Sustainability Research, University of Graz

Alfred Posch
Institute of System Sciences, Innovation and Sustainability Research, University of Graz


Powered by OpenConf®
Copyright ©2002-2018 Zakon Group LLC