Political Views and Climate Change Views

by Riley Hoffman

It is obvious in the United States that the political divide is so intense, that one could fit an ocean between the Democratic and Republican parties when it comes to opinions on global climate change, but is it the same in other countries? The authors (McCright etd.2015) of “Political ideology and views about climate change in the European Union” try to find out. In a study with 25 countries (14 Western European countries, 11 former Communist countries), they used a survey to test whether or not the trends. Their hypothesis? That just as in the US, citizens who associate with the conservative parties will show less belief in global climate change in comparison to their liberal counterparts. They were also curious to compare their data to the former Communist countries’ citizens. Surprisingly, their hypothesis was accurate as, for the most part, right-leaning people showed higher amounts of denial and considered it much less serious than the liberals. They found very little divide on the topic in the former Communist countries.

The authors cite many studies done from 2008 to 2013 that come to the conclusion that Republicans have less concern with the progression of climate change elsewhere in countries like Australia, Canada, and the UK as well. The article goes on to explain that the EU has been “far more progressive” on enacting policies than the US and the campaigns that advertise disbelief in the facts have been much less publicized. In their experiment, the respondents are asked to report their personal level of belief, willingness to pay for the fight against climate change, and their understanding and level of knowledge on the topic.

The article attempts to explain the results by noting that one of the important aspects of the Republican Party’s platform is the importance of “national sovereignty” and the dislike of change. If climate change became an important political topic, policies would have to be enacted, and the government may start restricting things like water and gas usage, possibly violating private property rights. The second portion of their experiment, the former Communist countries’ results, is explained because these countries have advertised less about climate change, and they don’t encourage strong political divides, keeping the country at equilibrium. As was expected by the authors, their survey proved their point that right-leaning people are less concerned with global climate change that it might be evident during their lifetime.


McCright, A. M., Dunlap, R. E., Marquart-Pyatt, S. T.. 2015. Political ideology and views about climate change in the European Union. Environmental Politics, 25:2, 338-358, DOI: 10.1080/09644016.2015.1090371.





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