Industrial ecology, life-cycle assessment, environmental economics, consumer behavior
Kyle Meng, Robert Heilmayr
Dissertation Title & Abstract
Essays on Consumer Behavior and the Environment
Consumer behavior plays a key role in our understanding of environmental sustainability. While significant research has focused on accounting for the environmental impacts of household consumption, less attention has been paid to how consumer demand mediates the net environmental impacts of proposed solutions to ongoing environmental challenges. Such an agenda, which is the focus of this dissertation, must consider both how consumers respond to environmental interventions and how the resulting changes in consumer demand lead to net environmental impacts. The first chapter, The role of prices in determining the environmental impacts of product choice, explores how a consumer's choice between products affects his aggregate carbon footprint. Five case studies are considered, where commonly proposed environmental behaviors increase environmental impacts as a result of price difference across alternatives. The second chapter, Curbside recycling increases household consumption, uses econometric methods to study curbside recycling programs, finding that curbside recycling programs increase household consumption, a process that likely reduces the environmental benefits of recycling. The third chapter, Demand-driven conservation, analyzes how changes in demand can lead to biomass benefits for wild fisheries and performs a case study to investigate how cell-based seafood, a novel food product in development, may lead to ocean conservation.
ME, Civil and Environmental Systems, University California, Berkeley
BS, Biochemistry, University of California, Santa Barbara