WashU affiliated authors: Michael Bechtel, Dept. of Political science
Abstract: The introduction of policies that increase the price of carbon is central to limiting the adverse effects of global warming. Conventional wisdom holds that, of the possible cost paths, gradually raising costs relating to climate action will receive the most public support. Here, we explore mass support for dynamic cost paths in four major economies (France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States). We find that, for a given level of average costs, increasing cost paths receive little support whereas constant cost schedules are backed by majorities in all countries irrespective of whether those average costs are low or high. Experimental evidence indicates that constant cost paths significantly reduce opposition to climate action relative to increasing cost paths. Preferences for climate cost paths are related to the time horizons of individuals and their desire to smooth consumption over time.
Citation: Bechtel, M.M., Scheve, K.F. & van Lieshout, E. Constant carbon pricing increases support for climate action compared to ramping up costs over time. Nat. Clim. Chang. (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-020-00914-6