Cities and citizens, due to their large carbon footprint, provide a key leverage point for addressing the climate change issue. But even though more than 100 local climate action plans have been developed in California alone over the past few years, they often lack implementation strategies and face stiff headwinds in community awareness and acceptance, much less financing. Fundamentally, this is a systems problem spanning multiple issues and perspectives: people’s attitudes and behaviors, how people view and use energy, technology choices and cost considerations, existing policies and incentives, market acceptance, and larger social contexts such as norms and values. State and local approaches tend to focus on technology-based solutions and policy adoption but generally lack strategies that comprehend human and social factors that can either drive or hinder technology and policy adoption. Max Wei of Lawrence Berkeley National Labs discusses various themes and frameworks for system approaches drawing upon both energy and non-energy examples, describes some innovative programs and case studies in the energy efficiency space, and finally raises some issues from the research and quantification standpoint.
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