Berkeley Program in Law and Economics
Law, Sustainability, and the Pursuit of Happiness
- Author(s): Farber, Daniel A.
- et al.
Environmental law focuses on regulating the production of energy and goods. Less attention has been given to reducing the environmental footprint of consumption. This Article brings together several strands of research, including psychological and economic research on subjective wellbeing; research on energy efficiency; writings by urban planners on sustainable communities; and recent work on individual behavior and sustainability. The conclusion, in a nutshell, is that changes in consumption of goods and energy, assisted by improvements in urban design and transportation infrastructure, can significantly reduce energy use and environmental harm. A variety of legal tools are available to promote these changes. Remarkably, many of the steps needed for sustainability can actually improve quality of life, adding to individual satisfaction. Thus, sustainability for society and the pursuit of individual happiness need not be at odds.