Greener and Cleaner? The Signaling Accuracy of U.S. Voluntary Environmental Programs

Policy Sciences, Vol. 38, No. 2-3, pp. 71-90, 2005

20 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2007

See all articles by Nicole Darnall

Nicole Darnall

Arizona State University - School of Sustainability

JoAnn Carmin

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Abstract

Voluntary environmental programs (VEPs) have become a popular alternative to traditional regulation. However, little is known about whether these programs are sending accurate signals about the environmental practices of their participants. As a means for understanding signaling accuracy, this research investigates VEP design characteristics. The findings suggest that there are four distinct types of programs with varying degrees of rigor. Because information for differentiating among program types is limited, less rigorous VEPs can signal that their administrative, environmental performance and conformance requirements are comparable to programs with more robust designs. Further, the lack of monitoring and sanctions in less rigorous programs create opportunities for participants to free-ride and receive benefits without satisfying VEP requirements. Unless some means of distinguishing among program types is implemented, these issues can threaten the long term viability of VEPs as a tool for environmental protection and the credibility market mechanisms more broadly.

JEL Classification: M14, L33, L31, L32, Q28

Suggested Citation

Darnall, Nicole and Carmin, JoAnn, Greener and Cleaner? The Signaling Accuracy of U.S. Voluntary Environmental Programs. Policy Sciences, Vol. 38, No. 2-3, pp. 71-90, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1009398

Nicole Darnall (Contact Author)

Arizona State University - School of Sustainability ( email )

800 S Cady Mall, PO Box 87402
Tempe, AZ 85287-5402
United States
602.496.0445 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://isearch.asu.edu/profile/1811617

JoAnn Carmin

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Urban Studies and Planning ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

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