Advancing bipartisan decarbonization policies: Lessons from state-level successes and failures

24 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2021

See all articles by Renae Marshall

Renae Marshall

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB); University of Colorado at Boulder

Matthew Burgess

University of Colorado Boulder

Date Written: August 11, 2021

Abstract

U.S. political polarization is at a high point since the Civil War, and is a significant barrier to coordinated national action addressing climate change. Studies of intergroup conflict suggest that collaborations pursuing shared goals can reduce polarization (while advancing the goals). In this spirit, we comprehensively review and characterize successes and failures of recent state-level decarbonization legislation, focusing on opportunities for bipartisanship. We analyze 381 major state-government-enacted bills and 374 failed bills from 2015-2020, as well as the political contexts in which they were passed or defeated. We use bivariate analyses and regressions to explore correlations and partial correlations between the policy characteristics and political contexts of bills, and: their passage or failure, their bipartisanship, and vote shares they received. Key results include: (i) Nearly one third of these state-level decarbonization bills were passed by Republican-controlled governments. (ii) Bipartisan or Republican co-sponsors disproportionately passed voluntary Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs, financial incentives for renewable energy, and legislation that expands consumer or business choices in context of decarbonization goals; Democrat-only sponsors disproportionately passed mandatory Renewable Energy and Efficiency Portfolio Standards (REEPS) and emissions standards. (iii) Bills proposed in ‘purple’ states, and those lacking environmental justice components framed using academic social-justice jargon or non-neutrally with respect to immutable characteristics such as race, were disproportionately enacted and bipartisan. Bills that expand consumer or business choice were also enacted more often than those that restrict choice. Though climate change is a polarized issue, our results provide tangible insights for future bipartisan successes.

Keywords: political polarization, climate change, climate policy, environmental politics

Suggested Citation

Marshall, Renae and Marshall, Renae and Burgess, Matthew, Advancing bipartisan decarbonization policies: Lessons from state-level successes and failures (August 11, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3903644 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3903644

Renae Marshall (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) ( email )

Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States

University of Colorado at Boulder ( email )

Boulder, CO 80309
United States

Matthew Burgess

University of Colorado Boulder ( email )

80309 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.mattgburgess.ca

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