Simple reframing unlikely to boost public support for climate policy

Image credit: [Nature Climate Change]


Ambitious policies for limiting climate change require strong public support. However, the public’s appetite for such policies, as observed in most countries, is rather limited. One possibility for enhancing public support could be to shift the main justification in the public policy discourse on greenhouse gas mitigation from benefits of reducing climate change risks (the conventional justification) to other types of benefit. Technological innovation, green jobs, community building and health benefits are widely discussed candidates. The intuition is that reframing greenhouse gas mitigation efforts and their benefits in such terms could make them more personally relevant as well as more emotionally engaging and appealing to citizens. On the basis of results from two survey-embedded experiments (combined N = 1,675), and in contrast to some earlier studies, we conclude that simple reframing of climate policy is unlikely to increase public support, and outline reasons for this finding. As the added value of other justifications remains unclear at best and potentially nil, sticking to climate risk reduction as the dominant justification seems worthwhile.

Nature Climate Change 6(3)
Thomas Bernauer
Thomas Bernauer
Professor of Political Science