Understanding U.S. public support for domestic climate change policies

Rachael Shwom, David Bidwell, Amy Dan, Thomas Dietz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


In the U.S., public support for federal, state and local efforts to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) continues to be a crucial element of the political viability of these proposals. We present a detailed analysis of the reasons given by the general public of Michigan and Virginia for supporting or rejecting a number of policies that could be implemented to meet GHG reductions. The data allow us to analyze the relationships between reasons provided by respondents, social psychological and demographic characteristics, and policy support. This analysis can provide policymakers pragmatic guidance in (1) developing tactics to engage the public that build on current concerns about climate change policies and (2) crafting and communicating policies that garner support from various segments of the public. This analysis also raises theoretical questions regarding the relationship between public discourse on environmental issues and the formation of public policy support. We suggest that future efforts to understand the U.S. dynamics of public support for climate change policies could benefit from understanding the public discursive and the reasoning processes that underlie public opinion formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)472-482
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


  • Climate change policy support
  • Climate politics
  • Greenhouse gas reductions
  • Public opinion formation

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding U.S. public support for domestic climate change policies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this