What Drives Politicians to Act on Climate? A Field Experiment with Local Officials in Six Countries

Aug 1, 2023

Local governments play an important role addressing the climate crisis. However, despite public support for climate action, local policy response has been limited. We argue that (1) biased beliefs about voter preferences, (2) the time horizon for credit claiming, and (3) source credibility are barriers for legislators to learn and adopt new environmental policies. We test our arguments in a field experiment embedded in a real policy-learning context: a webinar on climate solutions for local politicians. Representatives from six Western countries received different versions of the webinar invitation. Constituency opinion on climate made local officeholders more likely to follow public preferences. Invitations sent by a climate scientist and emphasizing short-term policy effects also increased interest in the webinar but did not convert into policy commitments. Only US officials responded negatively to climate scientists. The results reveal concrete steps to induce climate action and contribute to scholarship on policy learning.

Publication details
Theme(s)
The urgency of zero
Type(s)
Report
Author(s)
Axelsson, Kaya
Year(s)
2022
Harvard

Latest news

Job Opening at ONZ: Youth Climate Training Assistant
Job Opening at ONZ: Youth Climate Training Assistant

The Oxford Net Zero Engagement Team (based at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment) is looking for a motivated individual to support the team 8 hours a week for 12 weeks (96 hours in total) in the second delivery of the Youth ... Read more

Onshore geological carbon storage has potential in the UK, but key knowledge and regulatory gaps remain – ONZ report
Onshore geological carbon storage has potential in the UK, but key knowledge and regulatory gaps remain – ONZ report

A new report by a team of Oxford Net Zero researchers reviews the current state of knowledge on onshore geological carbon storage (GCS) and its feasibility in the UK. Read more

Oxford launches revised Offsetting Principles
Oxford launches revised Offsetting Principles

As part of their net zero strategies, many companies, organisations, cities, regions and financial institutions are relying on voluntary carbon credits to offset their residual emissions. But evidence continues to cast doubt on the integrity of ... Read more

See more news and events