Change conditions, to change behaviour

Surveys indicate that almost the entire German population desires greater commitment to climate protection, but that only few actually make a start. Dr. Michael Kopatz, project manager in the Energy,Transport and Climate Policy department of the Wuppertal Institute and author of the book „Eco-routine. So that we do what we feel is right“, has lost faith in the consumer: „We prefer to push problems aside, instead of tackling them, and defend our everyday routine as long as we possibly can“.


There must therefore be a new routine which will transform perspectives, true to the motto of: Change conditions, to change behaviour. In his book, the author illustrates that only little changes if people feel disadvantaged and seem to be alone in dispensing with a flight or their cars or sim- ply consuming less. Appeals fail to achieve changes in our routines.


Dr. Michael Kopatz demonstrates in »Ökoroutine« that people can live more sustainably without having to study climate change or factory livestock farming on a daily basis. The transition to sustainability, he notes, can become automatic if struc- tures are modified - by means, for example, of standards and limits. Kopatz refers to this as the »deliverance of the consumer«.

With climate protection things are much like a diet: The first few pounds are easily lost before it gets difficult. Every citizen in Germany currently emits ten tons of carbon dioxide per year in average. We are still far away from the goal of „1.5 tons per citizen per year“ and it is be-coming more difficult. Managers and engineers have mostly lifted the low hanging potentials in efficiency. For a few years already, the CO2-level has been stagnating. Whereas the total use of resources could, despite all efforts, not be lowered at all. It is becoming more and more clear that a responsible handling of planetary resources will not work by means of technical innovations alone. A socio-cultural change is required likewise. Therefore, to create the polit-ical framework defines the focus of a concept named »Ecoroutine: change structures, instead of people«.

In many areas, ecoroutine works without using any words: Separation of waste, energy-saving lamps, efficient refrigerators, washing machines and vacuum cleaners. All of these have be-come normal. Everyday routines shape our daily life and we unknowingly profit from numer-ous rules and standards: Printing paper, plugs and drinking water. The German Purity Law for beer enjoys an international reputation.

Ecoroutine picks up this logic, creates structures offering opportunities and self-employs the change towards sustainability. Turning point of the ecoroutine are concrete and simple politi-cal tools. All refers to schedules in form of limits and standards, such as for the weight and the carbon emissions of vehicles. It is about speed, parking, road construction, airports, pesti-cides, fertilizers, livestock, coal power, packaging, warranty periods, durability, reparability, financial transactions, and much more.

»Ecoroutine« gives innovative proposals for action. They are concrete, practical and most are amazingly simple. Many tools are aimed at providers of products and services, others at con-sumers. They institutionally anchor the mindful/responsible use of resources. They make eco possible for everyone.