Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 73, Issue 3, pp 923–955 | Cite as

Does Absolution Promote Sin? A Conservationist’s Dilemma

  • Matthew Harding
  • David RapsonEmail author


This paper shows that households signing up for a green program exhibit an intriguing behavioral rebound effect: a promise to fully offset customers’ carbon emissions resulting from electricity usage increases their energy use post-adoption by 1–3%. The response is robust across empirical specifications, and is consistent with an economic model of rational energy consumption. Our results provide a cautionary tale for designing green product strategies in which the adoption of a product may lead to unexpected consequences.


Carbon offsets Behavioral rebound Green marketing Energy consumption 



Funding was provided by Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy (US).


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and Department of StatisticsUniversity of California - IrvineIrvineUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of California - DavisDavisUSA

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