Special Session

Rebound effects: New perspectives on a phenomenon known for almost 150 years

Chairs: Martin Soland, Universität Zürich and Anja Peters, Fraunhofer ISI.

­Reducing the use of energetic and non-energetic resources is typically considered to be a key strategy towards achieving sustainable development goals. While new technologies and environmental policies have led to significant improvements in energy and resource efficiency, progress in the reduction of energy and resource consumption and environmental impacts has been less than expected. To some extent, this is also due to so-called rebound effects, a phenomenon which has first been described in 1865 by the economist W. S. Jevons. Accordingly, efficiency improvements can induce increased demand for services or products which at least partially compensates the expected reduction of energy or resource consumption.

This session presents and discusses relevance and drivers of rebound effects from various perspectives and for various areas and sectors in order to identify specific need for action. Martin Soland (University of Zurich) introduces greentech optimism as a socio-psychological driver of rebound effects and presents empirical results which illu-strate how and under what conditions greentech optimism can negatively influence environmentally responsible behaviour. Anja Peters et al. (Fraunhofer ISI) introduce a psychological model for the explanation of rebound effects and present results of qualitative and quantitative methods to empirically study rebound effects related to lighting in the residential sector in Germany. Matthias Pfaff and Christian Sartorius (Fraunhofer ISI) use an input/output table based tool to quantitatively assess indirect and economy-wide rebound effects of efficiency improvements in resource intensive industrial sectors. Hans Jakob Walnum (Western Norway Research Institute and Aal-borg University) aims at an interdisciplinary understanding of macro rebound effects. Hans Marth and Anja Peters (Fraunhofer ISI) present a conceptual framework to clas-sify, identify and explain rebound effects and to discuss guidelines for policies to ad-dress rebound effects in different fields of environmental policy. Based on the various presentations, recommendations for policy and for further research shall be discussed.

Download abstracts from the Rebound effects session here