Exploring the Adaptation-mitigation Relationship: Does Information on the Costs of Adapting to Climate Change Influence Support for Mitigation?

Brian Greenhill, Nives Dolšak & Aseem Prakash (2018) Exploring the Adaptation-mitigation Relationship: Does Information on the Costs of Adapting to Climate Change Influence Support for Mitigation?, Environmental Communication, 12:7, 911-927, DOI: 10.1080/17524032.2018.1508046

Can information about adaptation costs influence citizens’ willingness to support climate change mitigation? Some scholars are concerned that policy discussions on adaptation might present climate change as a more manageable problem, and therefore crowd out mitigation efforts. On the other hand, providing information on adaptation costs may sensitize citizens to these costs, thereby increasing their willingness to support mitigation. To assess these conflicting predictions, we fielded a web-based survey experiment using a sample of 2,000 US-based respondents. We presented the respondents with a hypothetical newspaper article regarding a proposed gasoline tax (a mitigation strategy) and measured the support for this proposal across different treatment groups. In the control group, the respondents were told that failure to mitigate climate change could result in a potentially catastrophic outcome, whereas in each of the treatment groups the respondents were provided with information concerning possible adaptation costs. The respondents were then asked about their willingness to support a gasoline tax. Our key finding is that the provision of information about adaptation costs leads to a small increase in the respondents’ willingness to support mitigation efforts. Furthermore, we find that this effect becomes larger when the information regarding adaptation costs is made more specific.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17524032.2018.1508046

People Involved: 
Status of Research or Work: 
Completed/published
Research Type: