Question How can we reduce consumption of greenhouse gas-emitting goods and services?
Contest main page Submit proposals at https://www.climatecolab.org/web/guest/plans/-/plans/contestId/25
Deadline June 15, 2013, at 11:59 Eastern Standard Time
Rules All entrants must agree to the 2012-13 contest rules.
Prizes The contest winners will be invited to present their work at the Crowds and Climate Conference at MIT November 6-7, 2013, and at the event, a $10,000 Grand Prize will be awarded to one of the contest winners
Related contests Many universities sponsor energy-reduction contests
Guidelines from the contest Advisor(s) and Fellow(s) #
Human consumption--of food, energy, and other goods and services--is tied to greenhouse emissions, which in turn drive climate change. Reducing consumption can thus mitigate climate change by limiting greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of goods and services.
Consumption can be reduced in three primary ways:
- Shifting the basket of goods and services consumed from higher-emitting to lower-emitting items.
For example, living closer to work shortens one's commute and reduces the amount of transportation services consumed. A shift to a more plant based diet can reduce the emissions associated with meat production. When thinking about the potential impact in shifts in consumption, it is worth distinguising distinguishing between changes in personal consumption patterns, which will likely affect only on person/household or possibly a few through influence, from large scale efforts to change consumption patterns more broadly.
- Reducing the overall rate of economic growth.
The level of economic activity has been closely correlated with emissions and this relationship is likely to continue at least for the short- and medium-term. Reducing the pace at which economic activity expands can thus reduce future emissions.
- Reducing the rate of population growth.
Population is another key variable correlated with emissions. If the pace at which the world's population grows can be slowed, it could reduce short- and medium-term emissions growth as well. It is important to note, however, that population growth is most rapid in developing countries, where the average carbon footprint of citizens is low. In considering population growth as a factor that can emissions reductions, it important to note the average carbon footprint of the regions where limits to population growth are advocated.
Key issues #
Proposals are invited that address any strategy for reducing consumption, and they can focus on consumption overall or on a particular good or service. To guide your thinking, below is the list of categories of goods and services used the the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in calculating the Consumer Price Index (CPI):
- Food and beverages
- Housing, including utilities and furniture
- Medical care
- Education and communication
There has been a considerable amount of work done by researchers on what mechanisms can lead people to consume less energy. Some of this research could serve as the basis for proposals on how to reduce energy consumption, and mechanisms developed to induce energy consumption could perhaps be applied to reduce consumption of other kinds of goods and services as well.
The Behavior and Energy Cluster at Stanford's Precourt Energy Efficiency Center has done some of the leading work on the human behavior around energy usage. The Foundational Readings link on its site provide a good overview of relevant research (see Resource section below).
Judges and contest-specific prizes #
The judges will be:
Byron Reeves, Stanford University
Karen Erhardt-Martinez, Garrison Institute
- Reference is currently on Building efficiency page at https://www.climatecolab.org/web/guest/resources/-/wiki/Main/Building+Efficiency
- Behavior and Energy Cluster, Precourt Energy Efficiency Center, Stanford University Foundational Readings
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA greenhouse gas calculator
- Sierra Club, Food Consumption Tips
- National Resources Defense Council, Energy Saving Tips
- IPCC, Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change