Brussels, 14 Aug 2003
By 2040, many people will be working from home several days a week, and when planning their holidays, will be limited to a certain number of 'air miles' per year to reflect the true environmental cost of air travel, according to the participants for an EU project aimed at promoting sustainable consumption.
ToolSust aims to promote the involvement of stakeholders in the development and implementation of tools for sustainable households in the cities of tomorrow, and is funded under the 'energy, environment and sustainable development' section of the Fifth Framework Programme. The project involves citizens in five European cities: Fredrikstad, Norway; Groningen, the Netherlands; Padua, Italy; Guildford, UK; and Stockholm, Sweden.
Leanne Tite, research fellow at project partner the University of Surrey, explains: 'Europe's future economic development faces a fundamental challenge to simultaneously balance the demands of global economic competition with progress in 'green' innovation and technology.
'Although technological advances offer promising solutions to environmental problems, the potential of these solutions will only be realised when consumers adopt them and use new products and technologies in sustainable ways,' she continued.
The project ultimately aims to identify goals, and develop and test various tools for sustainable consumption that can be implemented into daily life. In order to achieve this, the consortium partners in each of the five cities are surveying various stakeholders, including citizens and public authorities, to find out which environmental problems they perceive to be most serious, and what the possible solutions might be.
The results of the Guilford survey show that residents believe that recycling and household energy conservation are the most pressing environmental concerns, while public authorities see traffic and transport as the main problem. The main obstacles cited as impediments to adopting sustainable technologies or practices include high prices, lack of availability, lack of information, and uncertainties over quality.
Changes to protect the environment are most widely adopted when they fit easily into the everyday lifestyles of consumers, the survey also found.
Ideas generated during workshops aimed at creating sustainable European cities include government intervention to create a more environmentally sustainable economy; taxation shifts from labour to non-renewable materials; heavy taxes for polluting enterprises; raising money from green taxes; and the investment of fines in research and development into sustainable technologies.
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