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Political orientation, environmental values, and climate change beliefs and attitudes: An empirical cross country analysis

Andreas Ziegler

Energy Economics, 2017, vol. 63, issue C, 144-153

Abstract: Based on unique data from representative computer-based surveys among more than 3400 citizens, this paper empirically examines the determinants of several climate change beliefs and attitudes in three countries which are key players in international climate policy, namely the USA, Germany (as the largest country in the European Union), and China. Our econometric analysis implies that political orientation in the USA is by far more relevant for general climate change beliefs and beliefs in anthropogenic climate change than in Germany and China. Furthermore, US and German citizens with a conservative, but not green identification significantly less often support publicly financed climate policy, while US and German respondents with a social–green identification and Chinese respondents belonging to the Communist Party have a significantly higher willingness to pay a price premium for climate-friendly products. However, our econometric analysis overall reveals that environmental values, which are measured by a New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) scale, are the major factors for climate change beliefs and attitudes in all three countries and thus play an even more dominant role than political orientation. In addition, environmental values weaken the differences in several climate change beliefs and attitudes between a right-wing and a left-wing identification. These interaction effects between political orientation and the NEP scale are especially strong in the USA, only relevant for the support of publicly financed climate policy in Germany, and negligible in China. Our estimation results suggest alternative strategies such as specific communication campaigns in order to reduce the climate change skepticism in conservative and right-wing circles in the USA and to increase the support of climate policies among such population groups.

Keywords: Climate change beliefs; Climate policy; Price premium for climate-friendly products; Political orientation; Environmental values; NEP scale; Econometric analysis (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q54 Q58 A13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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