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  • Thumbnail for UNINTENDED TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS? AN EVALUATION OF ENERGY USAGE ON HIGHER EDUCATION CAMPUSES WITH CARBON NEUTRALITY GOALS
    UNINTENDED TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS? AN EVALUATION OF ENERGY USAGE ON HIGHER EDUCATION CAMPUSES WITH CARBON NEUTRALITY GOALS by Abbott, Emily Yule

    Climate change is a feedback loop of inequality – both a cause and effect on a global scale. The impacts of which such as rising sea levels, increased incidents of natural disasters, and altered weather patterns disproportionately impact developing countries and vulnerable populations. Climate change is fundamentally caused by consumption – resource-intense lifestyles in rich Western countries. Higher education embraced its role as a leader in the response to climate change through sustainability declarations, such as the Climate Commitment and its carbon neutrality goal. But with a history of failed sustainability declarations, how do we know the Climate Commitment is effective and reduces energy consumption behavior? Using data from 119 higher education institutions in the US, this study builds on behavioral economic energy modelling to predict the likelihood an institution signs onto the Climate Commitment, and how energy usage per capita changes afterward. While the study finds that energy consumption decreases on Climate Commitment campuses between the baseline and performance years, the widespread distribution warrants further investigation into the matter.