The politicisation of climate change attitudes in Europe

Elsevier, Electoral Studies, Volume 79, 2022, 102499
Stephen D. Fisher, John Kenny, Wouter Poortinga, Gisela Böhm, Linda Steg

Do voters for different parties have distinct climate attitudes because of their positions on other issues? With European Social Survey (ESS) data, we find that in Western (but not Central and Eastern) Europe there is a linkage between left-right self-placement and climate attitudes that cannot be accounted for by economic egalitarianism or liberal cultural attitudes. That linkage partly but not fully accounts for why voters for different party families have different beliefs and worries about climate change. Green party voters are more climate conscious than other voters with similar left-wing identities and political values. Not only Populist-Right but also mainstream Conservative party-family voters are less worried about climate change than their left-right orientations and other political values suggest. While Western European countries nearly all follow the same pattern, there is no consistent structure in Central and Eastern European countries. Across Europe non-voters are less worried about climate change than voters.