IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

The Role of Behavioural Economics in Energy and Climate Policy

  • Pollitt, M. G.
  • Shaorshadze, I.

This article explores how behavioural economics can be applied to energy and climate policy. We present an overview of main concepts of behavioural economics and discuss how they differ from the assumptions of neoclassical economics. Next, we discuss how behavioural economics applies to three areas of energy policy: (1) consumption and habits, (2) investment in energy efficiency, and (3) provision of public goods and support for pro-environmental behaviour. We conclude that behavioural economics seems unlikely to provide the magic bullet to reduce energy consumption by the magnitude required by the International Energy Agency's “450” climate policy scenario. However it offers new suggestions as to where to start looking for potentially sustainable changes in energy consumption. We believe that the most useful role within climate policy is in addressing issues of public perception of the affordability of climate policy and in facilitating the creation of a more responsive energy demand, better capable of responding to weather-induced changes in renewable electricity supply.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge in its series Cambridge Working Papers in Economics with number 1165.

in new window

Date of creation: 21 Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1165
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Jaffe, Adam B. & Stavins, Robert N., 1994. "The energy paradox and the diffusion of conservation technology," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 91-122, May.
  2. Goodin, Robert E, 1994. "Selling Environmental Indulgences," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(4), pages 573-96.
  3. Jacobsen, Grant D. & Kotchen, Matthew J. & Vandenbergh, Michael P., 2012. "The behavioral response to voluntary provision of an environmental public good: Evidence from residential electricity demand," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 946-960.
  4. Kempton, Willett & Montgomery, Laura, 1982. "Folk quantification of energy," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 7(10), pages 817-827.
  5. Peter C. Reiss & Matthew W. White, 2008. "What changes energy consumption? Prices and public pressures," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(3), pages 636-663.
  6. Alexander, Barbara R., 2010. "Dynamic Pricing? Not So Fast! A Residential Consumer Perspective," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 39-49, July.
  7. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  8. Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2006. "Behavioral Economics Comes of Age: A Review Essay on Advances in Behavioral Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(3), pages 712-721, September.
  9. Abadie, Alberto & Gay, Sebastien, 2004. "The Impact of Presumed Consent Legislation on Cadaveric Organ Donation: A Cross Country Study," Working Paper Series rwp04-024, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  10. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  11. Herbert A. Simon, 1955. "A Behavioral Model of Rational Choice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 99-118.
  12. Matthew J. Kotchen & Michael R. Moore, 2004. "Private Provision of Environmental Public Goods: Household Participation in Green-Electricity Programs," Department of Economics Working Papers 2004-07, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  13. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  14. Train, Kenneth, 1985. "Discount rates in consumers' energy-related decisions: A review of the literature," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 10(12), pages 1243-1253.
  15. Heath, Chip & Soll, Jack B, 1996. " Mental Budgeting and Consumer Decisions," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(1), pages 40-52, June.
  16. Bruno S. Frey & Reto Jegen, 2000. "Motivation Crowding Theory: A Survey of Empirical Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 245, CESifo Group Munich.
  17. Mark F. Morss, 1989. "The Incidence of Welfare Losses Due to Appliance Efficiency Standards," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 111-118.
  18. Carl M. Campbell III & Kunal S. Kamlani, 1997. "The Reasons for Wage Rigidity: Evidence from a Survey of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 759-789.
  19. Cass R. Sunstein & Richard H. Thaler, 2003. "Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 48(Jun).
  20. Tom Tietenberg, 2003. "The Tradable-Permits Approach to Protecting the Commons: Lessons for Climate Change," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(3), pages 400-419.
  21. Uri Benzion & Amnon Rapoport & Joseph Yagil, 1989. "Discount Rates Inferred from Decisions: An Experimental Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 35(3), pages 270-284, March.
  22. Chris M. Wilson & Catherine Waddams Price, 2005. "Irrationality in Consumers’ Switching Decisions: When More Firms May Mean Less Benefit," Industrial Organization 0509010, EconWPA.
  23. Felder, Frank A., 2010. "The Practical Equity Implications of Advanced Metering Infrastructure," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 56-64, July.
  24. Rose, Steven K. & Clark, Jeremy & Poe, Gregory L. & Rondeau, Daniel & Schulze, William D., 1999. "The Private Provision of Public Goods: Tests of a Provision Point Mechanism for Funding Green Power Programs," Working Papers 127699, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  25. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. "Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
  26. Brutscher, P., 2011. "Payment Matters? - An Exploratory Study into the Pre-Payment Electricity Metering," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1124, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  27. Craig, C Samuel & McCann, John M, 1978. " Assessing Communication Effects on Energy Conservation," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 82-88, Se.
  28. Faruqui, Ahmad, 2010. "The Ethics of Dynamic Pricing," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 13-27, July.
  29. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2000. "Pay Enough or Don't Pay at All," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 791-810.
  30. Thaler, Richard, 1980. "Toward a positive theory of consumer choice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 39-60, March.
  31. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  32. Moskovitz, David, 1993. "'Green pricing': Customer choice moves beyond IRP," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 6(8), pages 42-50, October.
  33. Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
  34. Martin Williams & David Poyer, 1996. "The effect of energy conservation tax credits on minority household housing improvements," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 24(4), pages 123-134, June.
  35. Dean Karlan & Nava Ashaf & Wesley Yin, 2006. "Tying odysseus to the mast: Evidence from a commitment savings product in the philippines," Natural Field Experiments 00206, The Field Experiments Website.
  36. Koomey, Jonathan G. & Mahler, Susan A. & Webber, Carrie A. & McMahon, James E., 1999. "Projected regional impacts of appliance efficiency standards for the US residential sector," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 69-84.
  37. Hanser, Philip Q, 2010. "On Dynamic Prices: A Clash of Beliefs?," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 36-38, July.
  38. Jerry A. Hausman, 1979. "Individual Discount Rates and the Purchase and Utilization of Energy-Using Durables," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 33-54, Spring.
  39. Nava Ashraf & Dean Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2006. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence From a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 635-672.
  40. Rondeau, Daniel & Poe, Gregory L. & Schulze, William D., 2005. "VCM or PPM? A comparison of the performance of two voluntary public goods mechanisms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(8), pages 1581-1592, August.
  41. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2013. "Energy Conservation “Nudges” And Environmentalist Ideology: Evidence From A Randomized Residential Electricity Field Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 680-702, 06.
  42. Shefrin, Hersh & Statman, Meir, 1985. " The Disposition to Sell Winners Too Early and Ride Losers Too Long: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(3), pages 777-90, July.
  43. Hassett, Kevin A. & Metcalf, Gilbert E., 1995. "Energy tax credits and residential conservation investment: Evidence from panel data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 201-217, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1165. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jake Dyer)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.