finding 6.2 : key-message-6-2

Assumed versus Actual Choices—Planners have assumed economically rational energy-use and consumption behaviors and thus have failed to predict actual choices, behaviors, and intervening developments, leading to large gaps between predicted rates of economically attractive purchases of technologies with lower carbon footprints and actual realized purchase rates (high confidence).

This finding is from chapter 6 of Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR2): A Sustained Assessment Report.

Description of evidence base: From large potential emissions reductions calculated by integrated assessment models to expected behavior changes encouraged by employers, results of first-best policies and programs have been disappointing at levels from the global to the local. See Section 6.2.2 for a more detailed description of the evidence base and relevant citations. Even activities such as methane capture, which has been calculated to be economically profitable, have not been widely implemented by mining and other industries. Lifecycle calculations that show savings from energy-efficient technologies such as weatherstripping, insulation, and heating and cooling equipment have failed to prompt rational choices to increase energy efficiency or purchase energy-efficient homes in numbers near the technical potential. See Section 6.2.2 and Section 6.9 for a more detailed description of the evidence base showing the difference between predicted, economically rational decisions and actual decision-making processes.

New information and remaining uncertainties: Although much has been learned about such “market failures” or “barriers,” the reasons for gaps between predicted and actual results encompass factors that are still uncertain in their specific roles and magnitudes.

Assessment of confidence based on evidence: Numerous studies have conclusively documented gaps between predicted or potential emissions reductions and actual choices and behaviors, leading to a very high confidence level.

This finding was derived from figure P.2: P.2. Likelihood and Confidence Evaluation

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