Behavioral Economics for Climate Action

Sustainability starts at the individual level


has become a critical factor in the fight against climate change. Change is needed, quickly, at the institutional and individual levels. Specifically, the still unlocked potential of consumers to engage in more sustainable spending is remarkable: consumption behavior drives as much as 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions (Ivanova et al., 2015) 

We embrace the idea that understanding the different facets of human decision-making processes is key to living up to our mission of driving conscious consumerism at a large scale. Without knowing WHAT can lead to (or block) significant shifts in individuals’ consumption behaviors, efforts on the HOW might be misinformed and ineffective. 

In a nutshell: Why behavioral science?   

Overall, behavioral science aims to understand the complex field of human decision-making. Behavioral sciences recognize that people are not always rational (as assumed by traditional economic theory) and that their decision-making can be influenced by a vast range of factors, such as emotions, biases, or social influences. Research in behavioral sciences is usually driven by insights from various fields such as psychology, neuroscience, and economics.  

Over the last decades, many different behavioral models have been developed and tested, each with its own set of assumptions and predictions about how people behave – often in specific contexts. Findings from behavioral sciences have made a significant impact in several areas over the past decades, such as health, education, or finance – and even won Nobel Prizes or led to the creation of applied behavioral science teams (“nudge units”) in public and private organizations. 

Drivers and blockers for significant shifts in individuals’ consumption behaviors 

Research focused on understanding consumer behavior is vast – luckily, the focus on consumer behavior within the context of environmental impacts has also grown significantly over the past years. However, understanding and especially achieving increased sustainable consumption behaviors has proven to be complex.  

The adoption of sustainable consumption behaviors even if knowledge and consciousness exist (the famous human “attitude-behavior-gap”) can be difficult for individuals due to structural barriers and/or psychological barriers. Structural barriers refer to social, economic, and political factors, such as reduced access to sustainable products, financial constraints due to higher prices on green products or services, or lack of policy incentivizing desired behaviors. Psychological barriers, to name only a few from the state-of-the-art research, may be an individual’s lack of knowledge on which behaviors to adopt, choice overload leading to inaction, difficulties in changing established habits, the high abstractness of eco-friendly behaviors and their outcomes, or overcoming the self/other trade-offs relating to the costs which green behaviors can incur opposed to non-green ones, such as increased effort or time, increased cost, or inferior quality. 

How do we support and streamline efforts in shifting consumer behaviors 

We connect the world leading behavioral scientists and give them a space and the technology to apply their latest research on a large scale. We are driven by the fundamental believe, we can only solve the climate crisis together. Our behavioral team works together with a large science-driven community of (behavioral and environmental) researchers, non-profits, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders who dedicate their work to promoting more sustainable consumerism in individuals. With the goal to enable consumers to be part of the solution.  

Besides gaining an even deeper understanding of the psychology behind pro-environmental consumption behaviors, we facilitate the immediate incorporation of respective research findings into practical, valuable applications for the business world. This is achieved by connecting leading experts and institutions in the field of behavioral sciences with technology- and data-driven businesses or non-profits, which want to contribute to our cause by providing access to relevant data or offering suitable platforms for testing and incorporating behavioral intervention measures into their business models. 

A win-win-win: this set-up helps academia pursue their research goals by testing within a practical setting, allows organizations/non-profits to gain a competitive advantage by using the latest state-of-the-art product features, and drives behavior changes in consumers almost without any delay thanks to direct application of scientific insights. We can also provide a SaaS-Platform that enables large-scale experiments based on real-life transaction data via the ecolytiq GmbH.

We are constantly looking for further research partners and invite them to build with us a open and collaborative framework & methodology around the following to subjects:

1. How can Nudging Theory and Behavior Change Interventions be applied to drive conscious consumerism?

2. How can the behavior changes of consumers be quantified and measured to reflect the real impact in terms of verified carbon reductions?

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