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Socio-economic implications for individual responses to Air Pollution Policies in EU +27

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Assessing individual preferences of European citizens in air quality policies

An EU project in support to the revision of air quality policies through a socio-economic analysis of Individual behaviours and choices, ranging from the local to the European scale.

Climate Change and Environment

The EU-funded SEFIRA (Socio-economic implications for individual responses to air pollution policies in EU +27) project has been conceived in order to support the review and implementation of the air quality legislation, improving its effectiveness and acceptability. This task has been achieved through the coordination of trans-disciplinary scientific and socio-economic resources. Air quality policies are not implemented in a social vacuum; they require a continuous interaction with individuals, often implying significant changes in their lifestyles. In addition, the extent to which people endorse a policy is crucial in determining its effectiveness and success both at national and regional scales. However, while there is a broad consensus that public acceptability affects both the effectiveness and success of environmental policies, acceptability has not been fully studied and internalised in the models used to support the policies’ adoption. Exploring different quality and quantitative approaches, the SEFIRA consortium identified discrete choice analysis as a powerful tool in supporting the decision-making process in particular when the implementation process involves behavioural changes. Indeed, discrete choice experiments allow investigating people’s preferences and their potential behaviour, identifying variables affecting individual choices between two or more “choice alternatives”. Within SEFIRA a choice experiment has been conducted, based on 16.100 interviews administered in seven European countries. In this experiment the social aspects related to individual choices have been taken into considerations and socio-economic data of respondents have been used, allowing a segmentation analysis and highlighting socio-economic differences in the air quality acceptability across the various countries. The results of this analysis suggested that the willingness of citizens to change their behaviour might be larger than previously estimated. In addition, differences in policy acceptability by country and socio economic structure of the population have been highlighted.

Keywords

Air quality, SEFIRA, socioeconomic research, air quality policies, behavioural change, individual preferences

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Climate Change and Environment

18 September 2005