Interests, Norms, and Mass Support for International Climate Policy

69 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2014 Last revised: 1 May 2016

Michael M. Bechtel

Washington University in St. Louis

Federica Genovese

University of Essex

Kenneth Scheve

Stanford University

Date Written: April 30, 2016


Mitigating climate change requires countries to provide a global public good. This means that the domestic cleavages underlying mass attitudes toward international climate policy are a central determinant of its provision. We argue that the industry-specific costs of emission abatement and internalized social norms help explain support for climate policy. To evaluate our predictions we develop novel measures of industry-specific interests by cross-referencing individuals' sectors of employment and objective industry-level pollution data and employ quasi-behavioral measures of social norms in combination with both correlational and conjoint-experimental data. We find that individuals working in pollutive industries are 7 percentage points less likely to support climate cooperation than individuals employed in cleaner sectors. Our results also suggest that reciprocal and altruistic individuals are about 10 percentage points more supportive of global climate policy. These findings indicate that both interests and norms function as complementary explanations that improve our understanding of individual policy preferences.

Keywords: climate cooperation, public opinion, environmental politics, international relations, norms, interests, experiments

Suggested Citation

Bechtel, Michael M. and Genovese, Federica and Scheve, Kenneth, Interests, Norms, and Mass Support for International Climate Policy (April 30, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Michael M. Bechtel (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis ( email )

Campus Box 1063
One Brookings Drive
Saint Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States

Federica Genovese

University of Essex ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ, CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

Kenneth F. Scheve

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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