The Electoral Ramifications of Environmental Policy

The research project THERAPY examines how voters respond to environment, energy and climate policies ("environmental policies", for short). Anecdotal evidence, such as the Yellow vests and Nok er nok! movements in France and Norway, suggests that environmental politics can cause rifts between people and politicians. Meanwhile, the window of opportunity for avoiding dangerous climate change is closing, and it is therefore important to identify environmental policies that people are ready to accept. Identifying such policies may lead to accelerated environmental policy output and avoidance of illegitimate environmental policies. We assume that people are dissatisfied with public policies if they vote incumbent parties out of office, and we assume that people are dissatisfied with the political system in general if they do not to vote. With these assumptions in mind, we analyze how environmental policies affect peoples satisfaction with public policy and the political system, with data describing the placement of environmental policy instruments such as wind turbines and automobile tolls. We will consider local elections in Scandinavian countries, as well as cases of national elections and/or countries outside Scandinavia. The analyses are carried out with "design-based" methods such as natural experiments, instrumental variable regression and regression discontinuity. Empirically, we draw on registry data gauging individual-level electoral participation, district-level voting, and geo-locations of environmental policy instruments. Theoretically, we emphasize the varying concentration of costs and benefits that different policies inhibit, as well as the different implications this may have with different election rules.