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Behavioral Sources of the Demand for Carbon Offsets: An Experimental Study

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  • Kai-Uwe Kühn

    (Centre for Competition Policy and School of Economics, University of East Anglia)

  • Neslihan Uler

    (Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Maryland)

Abstract

Voluntary carbon offset schemes have sprung up in the last decade offering individuals opportunities to neutralize their own carbon footprint. These schemes strongly appeal to the personal responsibility of individuals in reducing the carbon emissions they cause. In this paper we report on a controlled laboratory experiment to better understand the behavioral motivations driving the purchase of carbon offsets, i.e., payments towards the reduction of damages to the environment. We show that the opportunity to offset damages does not affect the total damages created by the individuals when individuals trade in competitive markets. At the same time, we find a stable demand for carbon offsets when the price is sufficiently low. Therefore, introduction of carbon offsets increases efficiency by eliminating some of the damages ex-post. Behavior, however, is very heterogeneous. Individuals with a high (low) personal-responsibility index increase their offset purchases as their own damage (total damages) increases, but do not condition their offsetting behavior on the total damages (own damages) created.

Suggested Citation

  • Kai-Uwe Kühn & Neslihan Uler, 2017. "Behavioral Sources of the Demand for Carbon Offsets: An Experimental Study," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Competition Policy (CCP) 2017-01, Centre for Competition Policy, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  • Handle: RePEc:uea:ueaccp:2017_01
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    Cited by:

    1. Stehr, Frauke & Werner, Peter, 2021. "Making Up for Harming Others — An Experiment on Voluntary Compensation Behavior," VfS Annual Conference 2021 (Virtual Conference): Climate Economics 242396, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Lata Gangadharan & Charles N. Noussair & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2019. "Introduction to the special issue in honor of Professor Charles R. Plott," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 22(3), pages 577-584, September.
    3. Christoph Kerner & Thomas Brudermann, 2021. "I Believe I Can Fly—Conceptual Foundations for Behavioral Rebound Effects Related to Voluntary Carbon Offsetting of Air Travel," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(9), pages 1-11, April.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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