The experience of extreme climate events could significantly increase environmental concerns and voter support for Green parties among European citizens, according to a study in Nature Climate Change. These findings could help us to better understand what determines public support for climate action.
The past two decades have seen a rise in the awareness of climate change issues across Europe, along with an increase in the voting share of Green parties in the European Parliament. Although past experience of extreme climate events is believed to be an important driver of these changes, there is limited evidence of causal links between experience, environmental concerns and actual voting behaviours.
Using cross-country, high-resolution public survey and election data from Europe, Roman Hoffmann, Jonas Peisker, Raya Muttarak and colleagues provide evidence that temperature anomalies, heat episodes and dry spells could significantly increase people’s environmental concerns (in 34 countries) and Green voting (in 24 countries). The authors also explore regional variations, revealing that this effect is more pronounced in areas with a temperate Atlantic or cooler Continental climate than in those with a warmer Mediterranean climate. Moderation of these projections by regional gross domestic product (GDP) suggests that increases in support for climate action as a result of experiencing extreme events only occurs in regions with higher personal income levels.
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