Private costs of carbon emissions abatement by limiting beef consumption and vehicle use in the United States
A popular strategy for mitigating climate change is to persuade or incentivize individuals to limit behaviors associated with high greenhouse gas emissions. In this study, adults in the mid-Atlantic United States bid in an auction to receive compensation for eliminating beef consumption or limiting vehicle use. The auction incentivized participants to reveal their true costs of accepting these limits for periods ranging from one week to one year. Compliance with the conditions of the auction was confirmed via a random field audit of the behavioral changes. The estimated median abatement costs were greater than $600 per tCO2e for beef consumption and $1,300 per tCO2e for vehicle use, values much higher than the price of carbon offsets and most estimates of the social cost of carbon. Although these values may decline over time with experience or broader social adoption, they imply that policies that encourage innovations to reduce the costs of behavior change, such as meat alternatives or emission-free vehicles, may be a more fruitful than those that limit beef consumption or vehicle use.
This article was originally published in PLoS ONE. The version of record is available at: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0261372
McFadden BR, Ferraro PJ, Messer KD (2022) Private costs of carbon emissions abatement by limiting beef consumption and vehicle use in the United States. PLoS ONE 17(1): e0261372. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0261372