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Energy Research & Social Science

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climate communications, private sector, climate change policy, mitigation support


Environmental Law | Law


Finding routes to inspire political conservatives’ support for climate change mitigation is crucial in the United States. In an experiment with U.S. participants, we found that conservatives and moderates are more supportive of climate change mitigation when exposed to information about mitigation actions taken by the private sector. These results suggest that the private sector initiatives may be a way to bolster support for climate action across the U.S. political spectrum. We also tested for downstream spillover effects and found mixed results: Compared to reading about government regulations to mitigate climate change, reading about private sector climate actions led to both increased and decreased support for government-led further mitigation through two different pathways. We found an indirect positive spillover effect in which conservatives and moderates perceived private approaches to be feasible and effective, leading to more mitigation support. However, we also found an indirect negative spillover effect in which reading about private section mitigation actions reduced concern about climate change among conservatives and moderates, thus decreasing their support for government policies to mitigate climate change. These indirect positive and negative spillover effects appear to cancel each other out. Additionally, when comparing the effect of reading about private sector action to reading specifically about a carbon tax (rather than other government regulations) there were no spillover effects. We explore the policy and behavioral implications of these findings.



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