Mass Support for Climate Cooperation Depends on Institutional Design

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) August 20, 2013 110 (34) 13763-13768; DOI/10.1073/pnas.1306374110

Posted: 2 Oct 2019

See all articles by Michael M. Bechtel

Michael M. Bechtel

Washington University in St. Louis

Kenneth Scheve

Yale University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: November 1, 2012

Abstract

Effective climate mitigation requires international cooperation, and these global efforts need broad public support to be sustainable over the long run. We provide estimates of public support for different types of climate agreements in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Using data from a large-scale experimental survey, we explore how three key dimensions of global climate cooperation—costs and distribution, participation, and enforcement—affect individuals’ willingness to support these international efforts. We find that design features have significant effects on public support. Specifically, our results indicate that support is higher for global climate agreements that involve lower costs, distribute costs according to prominent fairness principles, encompass more countries, and include a small sanction if a country fails to meet its emissions reduction targets. In contrast to well-documented baseline differences in public support for climate mitigation efforts, opinion responds similarly to changes in climate policy design in all four countries. We also find that the effects of institutional design features can bring about decisive changes in the level of public support for a global climate agreement. Moreover, the results appear consistent with the view that the sensitivity of public support to design features reflects underlying norms of reciprocity and individuals’ beliefs about the potential effectiveness of specific agreements.

Keywords: international institutions, environmental cooperation, global warming, international relations, public opinion

Suggested Citation

Bechtel, Michael M. and Scheve, Kenneth F., Mass Support for Climate Cooperation Depends on Institutional Design (November 1, 2012). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) August 20, 2013 110 (34) 13763-13768; DOI/10.1073/pnas.1306374110, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3176561

Michael M. Bechtel (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis ( email )

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

Kenneth F. Scheve

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208301
New Haven, CT 06520-8301
United States

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