Public Attitudes Toward Climate Science and Climate Policy in Federal Systems: Canada and the U.S. Compared

28 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 31 Aug 2011

Date Written: 2011


Despite a great deal of scientific evidence in support of global warming, the public remains deeply divided on whether global warming is occurring and on what policies should be enacted in response. In the context of wide variation in climate policy at both national and sub-federal levels, this paper utilizes an original data set to examine public attitudes and perceptions toward climate science and climate change policy in two federal systems. Using national and provincial/state level data from telephone surveys administered to random probability samples in Canada and the U.S. during 2010 and 2011, the paper provides insight into where the public stands on the climate change issue in two of the most carbon-intensive federal systems in the world. The paper includes the first directly comparable public opinion data on how Canadians and Americans form their opinions regarding climate matters, and provides insight into the preferences of these two populations regarding climate policies at both the national and sub- national levels. Building on previous studies of public opinion in the U.S., which finds strong associations between political predispositions, on the one hand, and views on climate change, on the other, the paper further examines the determinants of individual beliefs in cross-national perspective. Key findings are examined in the context of growing policy experiments at the sub-federal level in both countries and limited national level progress in the adoption of climate change legislation.

Suggested Citation

Lachapelle, Erick and Borick, Christopher P., Public Attitudes Toward Climate Science and Climate Policy in Federal Systems: Canada and the U.S. Compared (2011). APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Erick Lachapelle (Contact Author)

University of Montreal ( email )

Christopher P. Borick

Muhlenberg College ( email )

2400 West Chew St
Allentown, PA Pennsylvania 18104
United States

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