European Unilateralism and Involuntary Burden-Sharing in Global Climate Politics: A Public Opinion Perspective from the Other Side

European Union Politics 15/1: 132–151.

Posted: 5 Dec 2017 Last revised: 12 Dec 2017

See all articles by Thomas Bernauer

Thomas Bernauer

ETH Zurich

Robert Gampfer

ETH Zürich - Center for Comparative and International Studies

Aya Kachi

University of Basel

Date Written: August 30, 2013

Abstract

Powerful political actors in the international system quite frequently adopt unilateral policies whose implications extend beyond their respective borders. Examples include financial market regulation as well as taxation, trade and environmental policies. They do so to avoid lowest common-denominator outcomes in areas where they desire more ambitious international policies, and to motivate or coerce other countries to shoulder a part of the burden associated with problem solving. This article explores whether and how such unilateralism affects public opinion in other countries, arguing that such analysis can point to external constraints on unilateralism and is worthwhile also for normative reasons. Empirically, we examine the effect of a major unilateral European Union (EU) climate policy initiative, which regulates emissions from aircraft, on public opinion in India and the United States, the two largest democracies outside the EU. Based on survey experiments, we study the effects of cost and sovereignty considerations on people’s evaluation of the EU’s new policy. The results show that both types of concern play a significant role and may act as a constraint on unilateral European climate policy.

Keywords: climate change, emission trading, public opinion, survey experiment, unilateralism

Suggested Citation

Bernauer, Thomas and Gampfer, Robert and Kachi, Aya, European Unilateralism and Involuntary Burden-Sharing in Global Climate Politics: A Public Opinion Perspective from the Other Side (August 30, 2013). European Union Politics 15/1: 132–151.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3080294

Thomas Bernauer (Contact Author)

ETH Zurich ( email )

Center for Comparative and International Studies
Building IFW, office 45.1, Haldeneggsteig 4
Zurich 8092, 8092
Switzerland
+41 44 632 6466 (Phone)
+41 44 632 1289 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ib.ethz.ch

Robert Gampfer

ETH Zürich - Center for Comparative and International Studies ( email )

Haldeneggsteig 4
Zürich, 8092
Switzerland

Aya Kachi

University of Basel ( email )

Peter Merian-Weg 6
Basel, 4052
Switzerland

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