Reality Check

Reality Check : The Nature and Performance of Voluntary Environmental Programs in the United States, Europe, and Japan

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Since the early 1990s, voluntary programs have played an increasingly prominent role in environmental management in the U.S. and other industrialized countries. Programs have attempted to address problems ranging from climate change and energy efficiency, to more localized air and water pollution problems. But do they work? Despite a growing theoretical literature, there is limited empirical evidence on their success or the situations most conducive to the approaches. Even less is known about their cost-effectiveness. Getting credible answers is important. Research to date has been largely limited to individual programs. This innovative book seeks to clarify what is known by looking at a range of program types, including different approaches adopted in different nations. The focus is on assessing actual performance via seven case studies, including the U.S. Climate Wise program, the U.S. EPA's 33/50 program on toxic chemicals, the U.K. Climate Change Agreements, and the Keidanren Voluntary Action Plan in Japan. The central goals of Reality Check are understanding outcomes and, more specifically, the relationship between outcomes and design. By including in-depth analyses by experts from the U.S., Europe, and Japan, the book advances scholarship and provides practical information for the future design of voluntary programs to stakeholders and policymakers on all sides of the Atlantic and Pacific.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 204 pages
  • 164.34 x 235.71 x 18.8mm | 408g
  • Resources for the Future Press (RFF Press)
  • Washington, United States
  • English
  • Annotated
  • 193311536X
  • 9781933115368

Table of contents

1. Introduction: The Challenge of Evaluating Voluntary Programs
2. The U.S. 33/50 Voluntary Program: Its Design and Effectiveness
3. Japan`s Keidanren Voluntary Action Plan on the Environment
4. Climate Change Agreements in the United Kingdom: A Successful Policy Experience?
5. Evaluation of the Danish Agreements on Industrial Energy Efficiency
6. Assessing Voluntary Commitments in the German Cement Industry: The Importance of Baselines
7. Evaluating Voluntary U.S. Climate Programs: The Case of Climate Wise
8. The Evaluation of Residential Utility Demand-Side Management Programs in California
9. Concluding Observations: What Can We Learn from the Case Studies?
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Review quote

'Cuts through the rhetorical fog that surrounds voluntary environmental programs . . . Policymakers should take heed of the book`s central conclusion - voluntary programs can work but cannot produce major change - and the editors thoughts on the design of these programs.'
Richard Schmalensee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

'A thoughtful and thorough analysis. It shows how voluntary approaches and corporate leadership can help mobilize the effort against climate change, but, in the end, are not substitutes for concerted government action.'
Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change
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About Richard D. Morgenstern

Richard D. Morgenstern is a senior fellow at Resources for the Future. He has been involved in the design and analysis of voluntary programs for more than 15 years, initially while serving in various high level positions at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

William A. Pizer is a senior fellow at Resources for the Future. He has published in subjects ranging from the measurement of regulatory costs to the design of environmental policy, and was involved in the planning and evaluation of voluntary environmental programs while serving at the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
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