The Electoral Ramifications of Environmental Policy

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 policies 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 unjust environmental policies.

We assume that people are dissatisfied with public policies if they vote against incumbent parties, 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 people?s satisfaction with public policy and the political system, with data describing the placement of environmental and energy infrastructure such as wind turbines and road tolls. Our analyses consider electoral participation and electoral results over several years, countries and political entities. Additionally, we will field surveys and perform qualitative interviews.

We expect that the distribution of costs and benefits through public policies affect voting, and that this effect varies between countries with different political systems. Earlier research shows that voters in Canada punished incumbent politicians that were responsible for development of wind power in their "backyards". One of the preliminary results of our research project is that Danish voters also punish politicians that are responsible for development of wind power. Our analysis, however, shows that danish voters only punish local politicians. The development of wind power did not affect support for political parties that were incumbent at the national level, which we think is surprising since national authorities are responsible for the legislation and financial instruments that stimulate wind power development in Denmark. Additionally, our results suggest that voters do not return to the party that they punished previously, and the effect is in that sense permanent.

Project facts


The Electoral Ramifications of Environmental Policy




01.03.20 - 30.06.24



Total budget

12.194.000 NOK

Research group



Research Council of Norway (RCN)



Project members

Alexander Sahn
Sam Tractman
Leah Cardamore Stokes
Martin Vinæs Larsen
Maryna Povitkina


University of California Santa Barbara, Aarhus Universitet


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