This Issue Brief explores the issue of the articulation between individual liberties and public environmental policies through the prism of the legitimacy of public action. It shows that the issue is linked, in particular, to the reading grid used to explain lifestyles, and that there are several different ones depending on the points of view adopted. Thus, legitimising public action requires above all a collective debate on the different visions of the determinants of lifestyles, in order to democratically choose changes rather than have them imposed by the urgency of future crises.

Key Messages

  • The reformulation of the conflict between individual freedoms and public action is useful for debating lifestyles in the context of ecological transition.
  • This Issue Brief proposes eight different interpretive frameworks to consider lifestyle changes and help structure the debate on the legitimacy of action. Each one carries within it a specific conception of the problem to be solved, a vision of the individual and of the public action to be implemented.
  • These frameworks make it possible to show the justifications in terms of freedom, and to show that lifestyle changes as part of the ecological transition do not automatically result in the loss of freedom: they can be neutral or even regarded as liberating.
  • Discussing the different forms of possible change on the basis of practical examples allows us to collectively judge uncertainties, benefits and risks, and thus to bring out new collective preferences in participatory debates or to enrich prospective scenarios.
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