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The significance of political culture, economic context and instrument type for climate policy support: a cross-national study

Journal article
Authors Niklas Harring
Sverker C. Jagers
Simon Matti
Published in Climate Policy
Volume 19
Issue 5
Pages 636-650
ISSN 1469-3062
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 636-650
Language en
Keywords CO2 tax, climate, policy, comparative, political culture, economic dependency
Subject categories Political Science


While many countries have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the choice of national climate policy measures demonstrates 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 hypothesize that various country-specific contextual factors determine both general preferences for environmental protection and the public’s preferences for different types of policy instruments. One suggestion is that countries’ prevailing political cultures have significant consequences for such public support. Another supposition is that, since countries differ in their economic dependency on climate detrimental industry such as fossil fuel production, this should be a significant factor determining both public attitudes and subsequent political decisions. This paper applies unique, original data from four countries with significant variation in (i) political-cultural contexts (Sweden and Norway vs New Zealand and Australia and (ii) economic dependency (Norway and Australia vs Sweden and New Zealand) to analyze how, and to what extent, these two contextual variables interact with, and moderate, the effect of individual-level factors on support for climate policy measures in the four countries. Furthermore, the paper explores variations in support for different types of CO2 taxes (directed towards individual consumers, industry, and fossil-fuel producers) in the four countries.

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