Media Briefings

YOU BROKE THE PLANET, YOU PAY FOR IT Brits and Czechs willing to pay high price to hit international climate targets, but only using polluter pays principle

  • Published Date: April 2017

The public is more likely to accept climate policies if the polluter pays principle is implemented, and if they know the action is international, according to research by Milan Ščasný and colleagues, to be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference at the University of Bristol in April 2017.

The study examines the public acceptability of various climate mitigation policies for adults in the UK, the Czech Republic and Poland. Respondents were asked to choose between climate policies. Most people were in favour of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (65% of Czechs, 58% of British and 55% of Poles support the European Union’s 40% reduction target).

Focusing on approval if the respondents had to pay the cost of mitigation, the research finds that most Czechs and British remained in favour, under certain conditions. British households would be willing to pay €145 a month and Czech households €62 for a policy whose costs follow the ‘polluter pays principle’. If the costs were distributed equally, the figures would be only €60 and €17. Poles were unwilling to contribute financially to the implementation of either of the higher emission reduction policies.

The authors conclude: ‘People are more likely to support policies aimed at stricter emission targets if they believe that such policies are likely to be implemented across the EU and that other countries worldwide will also make a commitment to reduce their emissions adequately. This suggests that a public campaign focused on a roadmap prior to policy implementation and supported by a binding policy commitment from other countries would help to increase public support for such policies.’

More…

The general public is more likely to accept new climate policies if the polluter pays principle is implemented and if assurances are given that convince them that the policies will be implemented both domestically and internationally. These are the main recommendations of new research by Milan Ščasný, Iva Zvěřinová, Mikolaj Czajkowski and Eva Kyselá.

Their study examines the public acceptability of various climate mitigation policies in three countries (the UK, the Czech Republic and Poland) based on a survey of nationally representative samples of the population aged 18 to 69 years, conducted in autumn 2015.

Respondents were asked to choose from various climate policy strategies, which differed in terms of the EU emission reduction target they would meet, and in how they would distribute the costs among the citizens of each country and among the EU countries.

The three reduction targets offered would result in three different carbon emission trajectories: no new policy (20% reduction by 2020), the Nationally Determined Contribution of the EU (40% reduction by 2030), and the more stringent goal set by the EU 2050 Roadmap (80% reduction by 2050).

While most people are generally in favour of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (65% of Czechs, 58% of British and 55% of Poles support the EU’s 40% reduction target), the researchers set out to discover whether this remained the case if the monthly costs to their households were to increase due to the implementation of new policy measures. They found that most Czechs and British remained in favour, under certain conditions.

On average, British households would be willing to pay almost €145 a month and Czech households €EUR, for a policy whose costs are distributed according to the actual emissions released by citizens and countries – this is what is known as the ‘polluter pays principle’.

By contrast, UK households are willing to pay only €60 a month on average and Czech households €17 for a policy with even distribution of costs, proportionally linked to the number of people in the household or country. Notably, the Poles are on average unwilling to contribute financially to the implementation of either of the higher emission reduction policies.

The study identifies at least three groups among the respondents: those ‘against’ such policies, the more ‘modest’, and ‘green’ supporters. Respondents who are ‘against’ both higher emission reduction policies form the dominant group in Poland (45%), but 25% are ‘green’ supporters. Overall, 55% of Poles are willing to bear some costs of climate policies. The polluter pays principle is strongly preferred by ‘greens’ in all three countries.

The results of the study suggest that in order to increase public acceptability of policies designed to achieve the EU’s emission reduction targets, the polluter pays principle should be implemented in all three surveyed countries. Special attention should be paid to the way such climate change policies are presented to the Polish public and to those who are ‘against’ emissions reduction policies.

Furthermore, people are more likely to support policies aimed at stricter emission targets if they believe that such policies are likely to be implemented across the EU and that other countries worldwide will also make a commitment to reduce their emissions adequately. This suggests that a public campaign focused on a roadmap prior to policy implementation and supported by a binding policy commitment from other countries would help to increase public support for such policies.

ENDS


‘Public acceptability of climate change mitigation policies: a discrete choice experiment’ by Milan Ščasný, Iva Zvěřinová, Mikolaj Czajkowski and Eva Kyselá is published in the December 2016 issue of the Climate Policy.

Milan Ščasný, Iva Zvěřinová and Eva Kyselá are at the Charles University Environment Center; Mikolaj Czajkowski is at the University of Warsaw.

For further information: contact Milan Ščasný on +4207244698015 (via email: milan.scasny@czp.cuni.cz); or Iva Zvěřinová on +420723188991 (via email: iva.zverinova@czp.cuni.cz)