Futuribles Journal n° 392

Ressources naturelles, énergie, environnement - Société, modes de vie

Towards Sustainable Lifestyles. A Variety of Lifestyles for a Single Ambition: Post-carbon Society

In 2009 a programme –“Re-thinking Society in a Post-carbon Society”– steered jointly by the Foresight Department of the French Ecology Ministry and the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME), was launched in France. It is still ongoing and aims to produce a final report in 2013. The idea of a transition towards a “post-carbon” society includes four main objectives: reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to one quarter of what they were in 1990; near-autonomy with regard to carbon energies (petrol, gas, coal); an adequate capacity to adapt to climate change and, lastly, greater attention to situations of “energy precariousness”.

As part of the dossier Futuribles is devoting to this programme this month, Andreas Huber, Sébastien Girard and Pierre Le Marre lay out in this article the results of the studies they have carried out on “sustainable urban milieus”. After a presentation of the notion of “milieu” (based here on a segmentation using the Socio-milieus® method) and of the typology employed (nine main social milieus, three emergent milieus and 16 contrasting profiles), the authors show the extent to which individuals’ carbon footprints vary, depending upon lifestyles, and what a determining effect these lifestyles have in the fields of housing and transport. They then specify the various factors influencing behaviour in the direction of sustainable consumption (or not) and the different types of strategies of intervention that are likely to modify those behaviours. Lastly, they detail two targeted strategies, one aimed at the “precarious seniors” milieu and the other at the “eco-elite” milieu. Despite certain imperfections that remain to be sorted out in the study of sustainable urban milieus, these studies open up new perspectives for the development of sociologically targeted policies for a post-carbon transition.

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