Greener and cleaner? The signaling accuracy of U.S. voluntary environmental programs

Nicole Darnall, Joann Carmin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

80 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Voluntary environmental programs (VEPs) have become a popular alternative to traditional regulation. However, little is known about whether these programs are sending accurate signals about the environmental practices of their participants. As a means for understanding signaling accuracy, this research investigates VEP design characteristics. The findings suggest that there are four distinct types of programs with varying degrees of rigor. Because information for differentiating among program types is limited, less rigorous VEPs can signal that their administrative, environmental performance and conformance requirements are comparable to programs with more robust designs. Further, the lack of monitoring and sanctions in less rigorous programs create opportunities for participants to free-ride and receive benefits without satisfying VEP requirements. Unless some means of distinguishing among program types is implemented, these issues can threaten the long term viability of VEPs as a tool for environmental protection, and the credibility of market mechanisms more broadly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-90
Number of pages20
JournalPolicy Sciences
Volume38
Issue number2-3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes

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sanction
environmental programme
programme
environmental protection
viability
market mechanism
market
monitoring
credibility
regulation
lack
performance
environmental performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this

Greener and cleaner? The signaling accuracy of U.S. voluntary environmental programs. / Darnall, Nicole; Carmin, Joann.

In: Policy Sciences, Vol. 38, No. 2-3, 09.2005, p. 71-90.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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