Public support for national vs. international climate change obligations

Lena Schaffer, Resul Umit
(2023) Journal of European Public Policy, 30(3), 537–573

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To achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, much will depend on how governments implement future progression toward more ambitious climate policy. While there is research on the acceptance of international climate policy or specific national policy instruments, we know comparatively little about public support for internationally pledged national emissions targets. We are thus interested in the causal effect of framing government policies aimed toward emission reductions as either national or international obligations. Can policymakers increase support by leveraging one or the other? Our results from a survey experiment in Switzerland indicate that while international frames improve target evaluation, substantive effects are small and we effectively report null findings for our main framing treatments. Eliciting the international obligation may nevertheless be regarded as an advisable strategy for policymakers as it significantly improves young peoples’ evaluation of emission targets and also makes less climate-conscious respondents more supportive of the reduction target.