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Project Title:

Addressing the Challenges of Climate Change Through the Behavioral and Social Sciences
PIN: DBASSE-CEGIS-09-03        

Major Unit:

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

Sub Unit: Center for Economic, Governance, and International Studies

RSO: Stern, Paul

Subject/Focus Area: Behavioral and Social Sciences; Energy and Energy Conservation; Environment and Environmental Studies

Project Scope
An ad hoc committee would plan and convene two public workshops.  The focus would be on two areas about which insufficient attention has been paid to the potential contributions of behavioral and social sciences.  The areas are incentives for mitigation (i.e., behavioral elements in a strategy to curb or reduce unwanted climate change) and facilitating adaptation (i.e., behavioral and social determinants of societal capacity to cope with unwanted climate change).

The workshops would demonstrate how behavioral responses can combine with technological and economic strategies to more effectively mitigate the impacts of and reduce vulnerabilities to climate change.  The workshops would lay the foundation for further inquiries and concerted in-depth studies by panels of experts.  The workshops, commissioned papers, and publication of workshop report covering both events are planned over an 18-month period.

The workshop on incentives for mitigation will feature invited presentation that would examine selected past and current efforts to induce energy conservation and efficiency to identify the economic and behavioral assumptions underlying the policies.  Discussions would be held to evaluate those assumptions in light of policy results and other evidence, suggest more realistic models of energy-use behavior and ways in which they could lead to more effective policies, and identify opportunities for needed research and strategies for mitigation policy that reflect available knowledge.

The invited presentations and discussions at the workshop on facilitating adaptation would address such key topics as:   assessing costs, benefits, and limits to adapting to climate change (e.g., uncertainties; ethical, economic, and institutional issues); identifying key vulnerabilities relevant for prioritizing adaptation planning (i.e., common versus unique needs of different sectors and at different spatial scales; adaptation strategies for different lead times before impacts occur); and defining appropriate roles for local, state, and federal governments and other entities in making investments, meeting needs, and informing adaptation decisions and setting priorities (e.g., decision support).

The project is sponsored by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The approximate start date for the project is May 1, 2008. A report of the workshops will be issued at the end of the project in approximately 18 months.

Project Duration: 18 months    

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Committee Membership
Committee Membership

 Meeting 1 - 05/26/2009
 Meeting 2 - 06/19/2009
 Meeting 3 - 12/03/2009
 Meeting 4 - 04/08/2010


Reports having no URL can be seen
at the Public Access Records Office
Facilitating Climate Change Responses: A Report of two Workshops on Knowledge from the Social and Behavioral Sciences