More generally, economic self-interest is not always the dominant
factor in consumer behavior. Symbolic meanings—transportation as a state-
ment of self-identity, values, and peer-group association—are also impor-
tant. In addition, the cost savings gained from purchasing fuel-efficient
vehicles is less of a factor in consumer behavior than feelings about being
a “smart consumer,” or “buying a piece of the future” for your children.
Stories or narratives that appeal to consumer self-identity or interest in
creating a better world may achieve better results in improving the effi-
ciency of consumer transportation behavior than appeals that focus on
self-interested arguments such as improved fuel efficiency. These stories
and narratives may also work at the community level and affect the col-
lective behavior of communities, governments, and corporations. Research,
including modeling, can help these entities articulate their preferred future
narratives or community “scenarios,” and even lead to changes in behavior
(Johnston, 2005; Kurani, 2005).
The Regulatory Landscape for Transportation, Energy,
and Climate Change
Policy places an important role in shaping the behavior of individuals and
companies. DeCicco highlighted the scale of the energy and GHG challenge
by noting that oil consumption from motor vehicles increased 25 percent
between 1990 and 2003 to 8.6 million barrels per day (bpd). This total oil
consumption figure is approximately equal to the average annual oil pro-
duction of Saudi Arabia over the last 15 years. An increasing share is con-
sumed by light-duty trucks, which due to their lower fuel economy emit,
on average, 39 percent more CO
per mile than passenger cars. Light trucks
now represent 59 percent of total vehicle fleet CO
emissions. DeCicco
argued that these numbers support action to reduce emissions from trans-
portation vehicles (DeCicco, 2005).
There is increasing support nationally for a regulatory approach to
transportation-related CO
, according to Grundler (2005). Leadership is
emerging within Congress and the Bush administration for action. However,
any regulatory scheme must be based on a solid understanding of external-
ities, and the costs and savings must be transparent to the consumer.
Technology policy can play a particularly significant role in develop-
ing innovative GHG-reduction strategies (Rubin, 2005). It can help smooth
out the innovation process through such interventions as research and
development support to promote invention, patent protection to foster inno-
vation, tax credits or procurement support to favor adoption, and education
to encourage diffusion. Historically, public policy has contributed to tech-
nology innovation. For example, patent filings for clean air technologies
increased from less than 10 to more than 100 annually in the ten years after
enactment of the Clean Air Act. Both regulatory and nonregulatory policies
258 Driving Climate Change

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