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Public opinion and environmental policy output: a cross-national analysis of energy policies in Europe

Anderson, B and Böhmelt, T and Ward, H (2017) 'Public opinion and environmental policy output: a cross-national analysis of energy policies in Europe.' Environmental Research Letters, 12 (11). ISSN 1748-9326

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Abstract

This article studies how public opinion is associated with the introduction of renewable energy policies in Europe. While research increasingly seeks to model the link between public opinion and environmental policies, the empirical evidence is largely based on a single case: the US. This limits the generalizability of findings and we argue accordingly for a systematic, quantitative study of how public opinion drives environmental policies in another context. Theoretically, we combine arguments behind the political survival of democratic leaders with electoral success and environmental politics. Ultimately, we suggest that office-seeking leaders introduce policies that seem favorable to the domestic audience; if the public prefers environmental protection, the government introduces such policies in turn. The main contribution of this research is the cross-country empirical analysis, where we combine data on the public's environmental attitudes and renewable energy policy outputs in a European context between 1974 and 2015. We show that as public opinion shifts towards prioritizing the environment, there is a significant and positive effect on the rate of renewable energy policy outputs by governments in Europe. To our knowledge, this is the first systematic, quantitative study of public opinion and environmental policies across a large set of countries, and we demonstrate that the mechanisms behind the introduction of renewable energy policies follow major trends across European states.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2018 12:00
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2018 23:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/21216

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