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Study: Public more likely to support climate action if other countries commit as well

New Article by Michael Bechtel, Kenneth Scheve and Elisabeth van Lieshout published in Nature Communications

🇩🇪 Internationale Klimaabkommen sind nicht nur wichtig, um weltweit Kohlendioxid zu reduzieren, sie lohnen sich auch aus innenpolitischer Sicht

Menschen sind eher bereit, Kosten für Klimaschutzmaßnahmen mitzutragen, wenn sich andere Länder ebenfalls engagieren. Das zeigt eine Studie von Professor Dr. Michael Bechtel, Mitglied des Exzellenzclusters ECONtribute (Universität zu Köln), Professor Dr. Kenneth Scheve (Yale University) und Elisabeth van Lieshout (Stanford University). Die Studie ist in der Fachzeitschrift Nature Communications erschienen.

Die Forschenden haben in repräsentativen Feldstudien untersucht, ob es von der Klimapolitik im Ausland abhängt, wie sehr die eigene Bevölkerung kostspielige Klimaschutzmaßnahmen befürwortet. Das Ergebnis: Beteiligen sich andere Länder, so steigt die innenpolitische Unterstützung für die Einführung einer CO2-Steuer, weil diese  dann als fairer und effektiver erachtet wird.

Finden Sie mehr Details in der Pressemitteilung von ECONtribute.

🇬🇧 International climate agreements are not only essential to reducing carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, but also important to garner domestic political support

The public is more willing to bear the costs of climate action if other countries contribute as well. This is the result of a study conducted by Professor Dr Michael Bechtel, member of the Cluster of Excellence ECONtribute (University of Cologne), Professor Dr Kenneth Scheve (Yale University), and Dr Elisabeth van Lieshout (Stanford University), which has recently been published in the journal Nature Communications.

In representative surveys, the researchers investigated whether the extent to which the public supports costly climate policies, e.g., the introduction of a domestic carbon tax, depends on whether other countries also pursue climate action. The results suggest that if other countries invest in climate action, the domestic public is more willing to approve introducing a domestic carbon tax because individuals expect these policy efforts to be fairer and more likely to be effective.

Find more details in ECONtribute's press release.


For decades, policymakers have been attempting to negotiate multilateral climate agreements. One of the motivations for securing cooperation among multiple states is the belief that the public will be more supportive of adopting costly climate policies if other countries do so, both because this makes it more likely that important sustainability goals will be reached and because those efforts resonate with widely held fairness norms. However, some recent research suggests that public approval of climate action is independent of the policy choices made by other countries. Here, we present two different experimental studies fielded in multiple countries showing that multilateralism significantly increases public approval of costly climate action. Multilateralism makes climate policy more appealing by improving effectiveness beliefs and the policy’s perceived fairness. Pursuing climate action within a multilateral setting does not only promise improved policy impacts, but may also generate higher levels of public support. Preregistration: This study has been pre-registered at AEA RCT Registry under #AEARCTR-0004090.

Read the full articel here.

Bechtel, M.M., Scheve, K.F. & van Lieshout, E. Improving public support for climate action through multilateralism. Nat Commun 13, 6441 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-33830-8.