2 Geo. Wash. J. Energy & Envtl. L. 61 (2011)
Energy and Climate Change: Key Lessons for Implementing the Behavioral Wedge

handle is hein.journals/gwjeel2 and id is 63 raw text is: PERSPECTIVE PIECES
Energy and Climate Change:
Key Lessons for Implementing
the Behavioral Wedge
Amanda R. Carrico, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Paul C. Stern,
Gerald T. Gardner, Thomas Dietz, and Jonathan M. Gilligan*

The individual and household sector accounts for roughly
forty percent of U.S. energy use and carbon dioxide emis-
sions, yet the laws and policies directed at reductions from
this sector often reflect a remarkably simplistic model of
behavior. This Essay addresses one of the obstacles to achiev-
ing a behavioral wedge' of individual and household emis-
*Amanda R. Carrico is Post Doctoral Fellow, Climate Change Research
Network, Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment, Vanderbilt
University. We would like to thank Jack Barkenbus for his valuable
comments on this draft, as well as Associate Dean Lee Paddock and the
participants at The George Washington University Law School Next
Generation Energy and the Law Conference and the editors of The
George Washington Journal of Energy and Environmental Law.
Michael P. Vandenbergh is Carlton Tarkington Professor of Law,
Director, Environmental Law Program, and Director, Climate Change
Research Network, Vanderbilt University Law School. This Essay was
supported by funds from Vanderbilt Law School and the Vanderbilt
Climate Change Research Network.
Paul C. Stern is Principal Staff Officer, National Research Councill
National Academy of Sciences, and Director, Committee on the
Human Dimensions of Global Change. This work is that ofthe authors
as individuals, and is not a product of the National Research Council.
Gerald T Gardner is Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Department of
Behavioral Sciences, University ofMichigan, Dearborn.
Thomas Dietz is Professor of Sociology and Environmental Science,
Department of Sociology and Environmental Science and Policy
Program, and Assistant Vice President for Environmental Research,
Michigan State University. Support for this project was provided by the
Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station.
Jonathan M Gilligan is Associate Professor, Department ofEarth and
Environmental Sciences, and Associate Director for Research, Climate
Change Research Network, Vanderbilt University.
1. See Thomas Dietz et al., Household Actions Can Provide a Behavioral Wedge to
Rapidly Reduce US. Carbon Emissions, 106 PROC. NAT'L ACAD. SCI. 18452,
18452 (2009) (introducing the concept of a behavioral wedge as the poten-
tial emissions reductions that could result from policies targeting household

sions reductions: the lack of an accessible, brief summary for
policymakers of the key findings of behavioral and social sci-
ence studies on household energy behavior. The Essay does
not provide a comprehensive overview of the field, but it dis-
cusses many of the leading studies that demonstrate both the
extent and the limits of rational action. These studies can
inform lawyers and policymakers who are developing mea-
sures to reduce energy use and carbon emissions and can serve
as an entry point for more detailed studies of the literature.
An effective response to the climate change problem will
require substantial reductions in energy demand in addition
to new   developments in low-carbon energy supplies.2 The
individual and household sector presents a major opportu-
nity; the sector accounts for roughly forty percent of U.S.
carbon emissions and a comparable percentage of total U.S.
energy consumption.3 Additionally, it is one of the most
promising areas for reducing emissions.' A recent analysis
estimates that behavioral measures directed at this sector
could reduce total U.S. emissions by over seven percent by
2. See Nathan S. Lewis, Powering the Planet, 2 ENGINEERING & SCI. 12, 19
(2007); see also Steven Pacala & Robert Socolow, Stabilization Wedges: Solving
the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies, 305 Sci-
ENCE 968, 969 (2004).
3.  Compare Shui Bin & Hadi Dowlatabadi, Consumer Lifestyle Approach to U.S.
Energy Use and the Related C02 Emissions, 33 ENERGY POLY 197, 205 (2005)
(estimating twenty-eight percent and forty-one percent share of U.S. energy
and C02 emissions due to direct behavior), with Shui Bin, Re-estimation and
Reflection: The Role of Consumer Demand in US Energy Use and C02 Emissions,
STUDY ON ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN BUILDINGs 7-40, 7-44 (2004), available at
http://www.eceee.org/conference-proceedings/ACEEE buildings/2004/Pan-
el-7/p7_4/Paper/ (estimating that direct energy used in the home and personal
travel accounts for thirty-eight percent, or 36.9 QBTU of 96.3 QBTU total
national energy use and forty-one percent, or 2,384 MMT of 5,715 MMT of
total national C02 emissions). See also Gerald T Gardner & Paul C. Stern,
The Short List: The Most Effective Actions US. Households Can Take to Curb Cli-
mate Change, 50 ENV'T 12, 16 (2008) [hereinafter Gardner & Stern, The Short
List] (estimating thirty-eight percent share of energy use); Michael P. Vanden-
bergh & Anne C. Steinemann, 7he Carbon-Neutral Individual 82 N.Y.U. L.
REv. 1673, 1694 (2007) (estimating thirty-two percent share of U.S. C02
emissions in 2000).
ERGY EFFICIENCY IN THE U.S. ECONOMY 10, 29-31 (2009) (noting the magni-
tude of the efficiency opportunities in the residential sector); Thomas Dietz et
al., supra note 1, at 18452 (concluding that 123 million metric tons ofcarbon
emissions reductions could be achieved in ten years).


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