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2016-02-24    来源:Eco中文论坛    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

Climate psychology

People's beliefs and motives influence the effectiveness of green policies
In December talks in Paris involving more than 200 countries may result in a new agreement aimed at reducing carbon emissions. In the months leading up to the conference, The Economist will be publishing guest columns by experts on the economic issues involved. Here, Céline Nauges, of the Toulouse School of Economics, and Sarah Ann Wheeler, of the University of Adelaide, warn governments to be conscious of unintended side effects of policies designed to encourage green behaviour.
今年十二月的巴黎气候峰会上,200多个参与国将在碳减排问题上达成新的共识。《经济学人》将于该峰会召开之前的数月里刊登涉及经济问题的专家专栏。来自图卢兹经济学院的席琳·诺德(Céline Nauges)和阿德莱德大学的莎拉·安娜·惠勒(Sarah Ann Wheeler)提醒相关政府尽快意识到相关促进社会环保行为政策将产生种种负面效应。
REDUCING carbon footprints will require fundamental changes in consumer, producer and government behaviour. Economists argue that consumers will adopt pro-environmental behaviour when doing so saves money, but they are less likely to undertake measures that are costly, do not satisfy their aims or require inconvenient lifestyle changes. But economic motives are only part of the story and psychological studies have shown there may be more complex mechanisms involved, sometimes with unexpected consequences.
The adoption of a more efficient technology is sometimes followed by an increase in energy consumption. For economists, this rebound effect can be explained by the cheaper energy prices due to improved efficiency. However, there are other types of rebound effects, in particular psychological ones. Evidence exists in various domains for moral self-licensing, when people allow themselves to indulge after doing something positive. A recent study showed that residents who were exposed to a water conservation campaign reduced their water use but increased their electricity consumption.
能源消费的提高有时能促进发展更高效的节能技术。经济学家认为,这种反弹作用是由于能源因利用率提高而价格降低所导致的。然而,也存在其他类型的反弹作用,尤其是心理上的。这类情况存在于各个领域,人们为了肯定自我价值,往往在办完某些有意义的事后会选择尽情挥霍。 最近一项研究显示,在亟需节约水资源的地区,水资源使用量会下降而电力消费量则攀升。
Ongoing research from an OECD survey covering more than 12,000 households in 11 countries sheds light on drivers of pro-environmental behaviour. The focus is on water and energy domains, with behaviour divided into high-cost (adoption of costly water- and energy-efficient equipment) and low-cost (habits such as switching off lights or taking showers instead of baths). Environmentally motivated households, in the context of this study, believe that human actions can help mitigate the negative consequences of climate change. The rest undertake pro-environmental actions for a variety of other reasons, including financial gain.
Results confirm that economic incentives matter but the effect of income is ambiguous. Rich households can adopt high-cost energy mitigation but poorer households are much more likely to develop less wasteful habits about energy and water use. When electricity bills were based directly on households’ electricity consumption this induced high-cost energy mitigation only for non-environmentally motivated households. Volumetric water charges, on the other hand, encouraged both high-cost and low-cost pro-environmental behaviour across all types of households.
This study also sheds light on the relationship between climate-change attitudes and pro-environmental behaviour. Results confirm other studies’ findings that attitudes—here the level of concern related to climate change—positively influence the adoption of pro-environmental behaviour. They also provide evidence that the more costly the mitigation, the more likely it will directly lessen the household’s climate-change concerns. This negative rebound effect is more likely in environmentally motivated households.
These results are striking but they are based on only one year of data. Further insights could be gained from tracking households’ beliefs and actions over time or by conducting more experiments.
The findings call for improved economic incentives and educational campaigns that remind households about climate-change risks. Policy-makers who wish to provide incentives must be aware of the possibility of psychological rebound effects with unintended side effects—which may take different forms depending on households’ motivations for preserving the environment.

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