A recent report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) asked what it would take for action on climate change to be ‘mainstreamed’. The IPPR conducted research with ‘Now’ people – perceived as leaders of public opinion and a supposed barometer for the acceptability of behavioural norms. A key conclusion was that for these trend-setters to change their behaviour, there would have to be something in it for them. That something, according to the IPPR, was the promise of financial gain for their adventures in sustainability.
On these pages, Tim Holmes has already questioned some of the methodological assumptions of the study, and the predictable media response to it. But there is a further problem with the logic of the report that raises a serious communication challenge for environmental campaigners: Using money as a motivator of sustainable behaviour simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.