Navigation

Voluntary corporate environmental initiatives

 

This project examines whether and how companies’ voluntary environmental protection measures have an impact on the attitude and behaviour of consumers vis-à-vis the environment. In particular, we are interested in how such environmental initiatives from the private sector influence demand from citizens and environmental associations for “green” interventions by the state.

Project description (ongoing research project)

To what extent voluntary environmental protection measures in the private sector influence the attitude and behaviour of consumers vis-à-vis the environment, and whether these increase or reduce political pressure for interventions by the state, is debatable. In this project we identify such interactions between voluntary and state-imposed environmental protection measures using representative surveys, survey experiments and focus groups. We will examine the following areas in depth: recycling of plastic waste, vehicle emissions, wood, peat, construction materials and food.

Background

Progress towards a more sustainable economy requires significant changes in the attitude and behaviour of producers and consumers. To this end, the federal government’s Green Economy 2013 action plan provides for a variety of voluntary environmental protection measures from the private sector in addition to state interventions. From a scientific point of view, it is unclear whether such voluntary measures have positive effects on state environmental protection measures and effect changes in the attitude and behaviour of citizens. In principle, voluntary private sector initiatives can reduce political pressure for more environmental protection and thus weaken environmental policies (crowding out effect). On the other hand, they could contribute towards a strengthening of existing public environmental standards and facilitate the introduction of new standards.

Aims

With this project we are pursuing two objectives. Firstly, to examine the impact of voluntary environmental protection measures on consumer attitude and behaviour. And secondly, to determine whether and how voluntary environmental protection measures in the private sector influence demand from citizens and interest groups (e.g., environmental associations) for state intervention in this policy area, and to what extent such effects differ in various environmental areas and forms of voluntary measures.

Importance

With our research we will contribute towards a better understanding of the possibilities and limitations of voluntary environmental protection measures in the private sector with regard to a more sustainable economy. Thus, we are supporting efforts to design and implement voluntary environmental protection measures in such a way that they can strengthen state environmental protection measures, create effective synergies between policy makers and the private sector, and have a positive impact on the environmental attitudes and behaviour of the population.

Original title

Implications of Voluntary Corporate Initiatives for Citizen and Stakeholder Attitudes and Behaviour Towards a Green Economy

Project leaders

  • Prof. Dr. Thomas Bernauer, Institute of Science, Technology and Policy, ETH Zürich
  • Prof. Dr. Joachim Scholderer, Norwegian University of Life Sciences

 

 

Further information on this content

 Contact

/SiteCollectionImages/bernauer-thomas.jpg

Prof. Dr. Thomas Bernauer Institute of Science, Technology and Policy, ETH Zürich Universitätsstrasse 41 8092 Zürich +41 44 632 6771 thbe0520@ethz.ch

On this Subject