Implementing the Behavioral Wedge: Designing and Adopting Effective Carbon Emissions Reduction Programs

Environmental Law Reporter (ELR), Vol. 40, p. 10547, 2010

Vanderbilt Public Law Research Paper No. 10-26

9 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2010

See all articles by Michael P. Vandenbergh

Michael P. Vandenbergh

Vanderbilt University - Law School

Paul C. Stern

The National Academies - National Research Council (NRC)

Gerald T. Gardner

University of Michigan at Dearborn, Department of Psychology

Thomas Dietz

Michigan State University, Department of Sociology and Environmental Science and Policy Program

Jonathan M. Gilligan

Vanderbilt University - Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences; Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment

Date Written: May 28, 2010

Abstract

The time is ripe to identify additional politically viable, low-cost, nonintrusive strategies to reduce carbon emissions. This article examines how laws and policies can reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 7% or more by inducing changes in household technology adoption and use. This “behavioral wedge” of emissions reductions will buy time for a stronger public consensus to emerge on the need for more intrusive carbon mitigation measures (e.g., regulating emissions, pricing carbon) and will complement the additional measures after they are adopted. The article identifies six principles for the design of behavioral wedge policies and programs and uses the design principles to evaluate recent federal household energy initiatives.

Keywords: climate change, environmental law, social norms, personal norms, individual behavior, offsets, carbon dioxide emissions, environment, carbon, informational regulation

Suggested Citation

Vandenbergh, Michael P. and Stern, Paul C. and Gardner, Gerald T. and Dietz, Thomas and Gilligan, Jonathan M., Implementing the Behavioral Wedge: Designing and Adopting Effective Carbon Emissions Reduction Programs (May 28, 2010). Environmental Law Reporter (ELR), Vol. 40, p. 10547, 2010; Vanderbilt Public Law Research Paper No. 10-26. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1617426

Michael P. Vandenbergh (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

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

Paul C. Stern

The National Academies - National Research Council (NRC)

United States

Gerald T. Gardner

University of Michigan at Dearborn, Department of Psychology

Dearborn, MI 48128
United States

Thomas Dietz

Michigan State University, Department of Sociology and Environmental Science and Policy Program ( email )

East Lansing, MI 48824
United States
517-353-8763 (Phone)

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://https://www.jonathangilligan.org/

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering ( email )

2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240
United States

Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment ( email )

2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240
United States

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