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Climate Policy Support in a Comparative Perspective: Exploring the Meaning and Significance of Political-Economic Contexts

Simon Matti, Sverker C. Jagers, Niklas Harring

While many countries have pledged to reduce GHG-emissions, the choice of national climate policy measures demonstrates a widespread variation. Although system of government, path-dependency and economic entanglements can explain a certain amount of variation in policy choice, research also points specifically towards the highly politicized nature of climate policy instruments and their sensitivity to public support as explanatory factors for cross-national differences. Previous studies have demonstrated that country-specific contextual factors determine both general preferences for environmental protection and public preferences for types of policy instruments. In particular, a country's prevailing political culture and its level of quality of government (QoG) is expected to have significant consequences for the prospects of gaining public support for different policy measures and will thus be key to understanding the viability of different climate policy designs. However, since countries also differ in their relative climate impact due to varying economic dependency on climate detrimental industry, this might also be a significant factor determining both public attitudes and subsequent political decisions. This paper applies unique, original survey-data from four countries with significant contextual variation to explore how, and to what extent, context interacts with and moderates the effect of individual-level factors on public support for climate policy measures. By applying a 4-country design, the paper can explore variations in several contextual aspects. Two small, Scandinavian states (Sweden and Norway), each accounting for only a fraction on global GHG emissions, but with clearly different economic dependencies, are compared with two in this regard significantly larger, Anglo-Saxon states (Australia and New Zealand) that also differ among themselves in national industrial structure. Thus, the paper will provide important knowledge about how differences in political-economic context affect the prospects for diverse routes to increased public support for climate policy measures.

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