Nudges (green thumbs): new incentives for ecological behavior
The adoption of ecological behaviors comes up against many obstacles, whether of a material, financial or psychological nature. These constraints limit the effectiveness of traditional approaches which combine awareness campaigns, technological innovations and economic and normative instruments.
Therefore, the contribution of new methods likely to induce a lasting change in consumption habits should be considered. Among these methods, some recommend using a strategy from behavioral sciences known as nudge (for 'boost'). This strategy aims to lead the individual to make choices that go in the direction of the general interest, without being prescriptive or guilty. Applied to ecology, this new type of incentive, which in this context is called 'green nudges', plays on several behavioral levers such as the weight of comparison with others or inertia to change, in order to invite citizens to adopt lifestyles that are more respectful of the environment. They are tested abroad for ecological purposes such as energy savings or the fight against pollution.
The results of these experiments demonstrate the operational, efficient, adjustable and non-restrictive nature of nudges. These behavioral incentives must however be further refined to overcome the various limits observed (perverse effects, difficulties of large-scale transposition, low sustainability of results). Without constituting miracle solutions to ecological problems, green nudges nonetheless remain interesting incentive processes in addition to the instruments already used.
Develop green nudge initiatives identified as the most promising
in the light of foreign experiences:
- invoices encouraging energy savings through comparison with others,
- sending correspondence from public operators electronically as a default choice rather than in paper format.
Implement public-private partnerships to harness the potential of smart technologies for the benefit of green nudges. For example, the installation of displays linked to the smart electricity meter makes it possible to offer households greater visibility on the energy savings achieved.