2019 Climate and Environment Other

A Climate for Change? Political Communication and the Prospects for Large-Scale Collective Action on Climate Change

Stefan Linde

The objective of this thesis is to investigate how communication affects public preferences for cooperation in large-scale collective action dilemmas. By merging theories on collective action and political communication the thesis tries to improve our understanding of how the political environment in a society can shape the preconditions for public participation in large-scale collective action. Specifically, it focuses on investigating how communications from political parties – both individually and aggregately – affects public support for climate change mitigation policies.

The report was presented during the seminar Grön styrning – hur går vi från ord till handling?

Main findings

  • Given the role political parties have in shaping public policy attitudes, it is important  to understand that the effectiveness of a given policy not merely is the result of it being economically rational or based in sound scientific evidence. The political context in which a policy is meant to be implemented must also be considered.
  • The partisan dimension must be considered when communicating climate change to the public. It is important to understand that public beliefs and attitudes towards climate change not only is a matter of access to information. A lack of concern for climate change or support for a given policy is not necessarily an indication that an individual is underinformed about the consequences.
  • High levels of perceived polarization can lead to lowered levels of both climate change concern and policy support. High levels of polarization can simultaneously lead to increased polarization among party supporters as well as increased levels of detachment and disillusionment among independent voters.

Stefan Linde is a post-doctoral researcher in political science at the Department of Social Sciences, Technology and Arts, at Luleå University of Technology.