Information Disclosure and Climate-Friendly Consumption: Assessing the Impact of Carbon Labelling at a University Dining Hall
University of California, Berkeley
Global dietary patterns are increasingly reliant on animal products, which are highly carbon intensive and significantly contribute to climate change. While transitioning towards plant-based diets is regarded as an important way to mitigate climate change, the best strategies to encourage this transition are less understood. This paper looks at the role of information disclosure in swaying consumers towards sustainable dietary practices. Through a field experiment at one of UC Berkeley’s dining halls, this study analyzed the effects of implementing a label with greenhouse gas emissions information. A traffic-light colored carbon label was added for every dish in a dining hall serving approximately 1,300 meals every day. The dining hall’s service records were used to calculate the quantity served to students for each dish both during a baseline period prior to the introduction of the labels and an experimental period in which the labels were implemented. The study finds that servings of red labelled dishes (high emission) decreased by 33% compared to the baseline, leading to a 13% reduction in emissions per serving.