Individual Carbon Emissions: The Low-Hanging Fruit

61 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2008 Last revised: 26 May 2014

Michael P. Vandenbergh

Vanderbilt University - Law School

Jack Barkenbus

Vanderbilt University, Center for Environmental Management Studies

Jonathan M. Gilligan

Vanderbilt University - Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Date Written: July 16, 2008

Abstract

The individual and household sector generates roughly 30 to 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and is a potential source of prompt and large emissions reductions. Yet the assumption that only extensive government regulation will generate substantial reductions from the sector is a barrier to change, particularly in a political environment hostile to regulation. This Article demonstrates that prompt and large reductions can be achieved without relying predominantly on regulatory measures. The Article identifies seven "low-hanging fruit:" actions that have the potential to achieve large reductions at less than half the cost of the leading current federal legislation, require limited up-front government expenditures, generate net savings for the individual, and do not confront other barriers. The seven actions discussed in this Article not only meet these criteria, but also will generate roughly 150 million tons in emissions reductions and several billion dollars in net social savings. The Article concludes that the actions identified here are only a beginning, and it identifies changes that will be necessary by policymakers and academicians if these and other low-hanging fruit are to be picked.

Keywords: environment, climate change, carbon, individual behavior, informational regulation

Suggested Citation

Vandenbergh, Michael P. and Barkenbus, Jack and Gilligan, Jonathan M., Individual Carbon Emissions: The Low-Hanging Fruit (July 16, 2008). UCLA Law Review, Vol. 55, 2008; Vanderbilt Public Law Research Paper No. 08-36. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1161143

Michael P. Vandenbergh (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States

Jack Barkenbus

Vanderbilt University, Center for Environmental Management Studies ( email )

VU Station B #351805
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37235-1805
United States

Jonathan M. Gilligan

Vanderbilt University - Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences ( email )

VU Station B #351805
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37235-1805
United States
615.322.2420 (Phone)
615.322.2138 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://my.vanderbilt.edu/jonathangilligan

Paper statistics

Downloads
1,079
Rank
15,138
Abstract Views
4,409