Depolarizing Climate Change Mitigation through Private Sector Initiatives: An Experimental Test

Authors: Ash Gillis*,
Topics: Communication, United States, Climatology and Meteorology
Keywords: climate change, communication, social psychology, private sector
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 44
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Understanding how conservatives think about climate change is central to climate mitigation in the United States. In an experiment with U.S. participants, we found that conservatives and moderates are more supportive of climate mitigation if they are exposed to information about climate mitigation actions taken by the private sector. Learning about private mitigation could lead to both positive and negative spillover effects on support for government mitigation (i.e., lead to both increased and decreased support for further mitigation). We find an overall positive spillover effect for conservatives and moderates, which occurred in part because conservatives and moderates perceived private approaches to be feasible and effective. Consistent with research on climate change adaptation and geoengineering, learning about private sector climate mitigation can sometimes—but not always—decrease support for government climate mitigation among conservatives and moderates when knowledge of private actions reduces concern about climate change. We explore the policy and behavioral implications of these findings.

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