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Study: Behaviors Need To Change If Calif. Wants To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions 80 Percent By 2050

Rich Pedroncelli / AP / File

This Sept. 22, 2006 file photo shows the Conoco Oil Refinery in Rodeo, Calif.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP / File

A UC Davis study suggests California’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 won’t happen under current policies without a change in people’s behavior.

Californians are using more energy, despite more efficient appliances and advanced technologies. Sociologist Bridget Clark with UC Davis calls it the rebound effect. She says people will buy an efficient refrigerator but put the old one in the garage. Or people who once just used fans to cool their homes are instead enticed by rebates to buy AC units. Instead, she says policies should focus on people’s behaviors.

“It’s not just about pricing energy to punish consumers for using too much of it, it’s about how can we show people how to maintain a comfortable ambient temperature that’s not super wasteful. That you can be comfortable at 74 degrees instead of 68,” says Clark.

Clark says marketing campaigns that focus on human behavior work better. Encouraging consumers to save water during the drought is a good example. She says peer pressure is also effective.

 air pollutiongreenhouse gasesemissions

Amy Quinton

Former Environment Reporter

Amy came to Sacramento from New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR) where she was Environment Reporter. Amy has also reported for NPR member stations WFAE in Charlotte, WAMU in Washington D.C. and American Public Media's "Marketplace."  Read Full Bio 

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