Joint Discussion Paper Series in Economics 16-2015
Based on unique data from representative computer-based surveys among more than 3400 citizens, this paper empirically examines the determinants of climate change beliefs, the support of publicly financed climate policy, and the (stated) willingness to pay a price premium for climate-friendly products in three countries which are key players in international climate policy, namely the USA, Germany (as largest country in the European Union), and China. Our econometric analysis focuses on the effect of ideological identification and especially considers the interrelationship between a right-wing or a left-wing orientation and environmental values. Our estimation results imply that environmental awareness is in all three countries the major factor for beliefs and attitudes toward climate change. In Germany, citizens with a conservative, but not social or green orientation significantly less often support the considered climate policy and particularly have a significantly lower willingness to pay a price premium, whereas ideological differences are negligible for climate change beliefs. In contrast, a right-wing orientation has significantly negative effects on all beliefs and attitudes toward climate change in the USA. Furthermore, an increasing environmental awareness decreases ideological differences in the support of publicly financed climate policy in Germany and the USA and especially in general climate change beliefs and beliefs in anthropogenic climate change in the USA. Our estimation results suggest alternative strategies such as specific communication campaigns in order to reduce the climate change skepticism in conservative and right-wing circles in the USA and to increase the support of climate policies among such population groups.