This presentation was delivered for the conference of Behaviour Change for Energy Efficiency: Opportunities for International Cooperation in the G20 and beyond, Paris.
The Japanese Government launched its first national behavioral insights team named Behavioral Sciences Team (BEST) on the initiative of the Ministry of the Environment in April 2017. It aims to help people take better actions by guiding their own decision and create an innovation in their lifestyles in collaboration among the industry, academia, and local and central governments. Several five-year projects have started since 2017 in policy areas including environment, energy, health, and education by using behavioral insights to create a Japanese model of behavior change. Following results were obtained through the first year experiments:
In the residential sector, home energy reports describing energy saving tips based on behavioral insights were sent to households to see how the consumption of electricity and gas changed. Through randomized control trials in collaboration with more than half a million households, it was verified that the reports were statistically effective to reduce the consumption by one to more than two percent, varying in areas with different locality and climate. Considering that the energy saving effect by the report is said to increase and reach to a stable level gradually, it needs further study to demonstrate the effect on the Japanese people. The effect was more significant when feedback was sent via web and smartphone application with an approximately three percent reduction in the energy usage.
In the transportation sector, in order to facilitate eco-driving and improve fuel efficiency, drivers were given feedback based on driving data including acceleration, velocity, and fuel consumption after driving through smartphone application. Results from pilot studies showed a tendency that driving behaviors such as sudden braking and abrupt start were improved and the fuel consumption was reduced by approximately 10 percent.
Field experiments are ongoing to verify whether effects last, diminish, or backfire. Results are being shared among related ministries for the consideration of making a better evidence-based policy.