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The influence of political leaders on climate change attitudes

Kousser, T and Tranter, B ORCID: 0000-0002-0649-6065 2018 , 'The influence of political leaders on climate change attitudes' , Global Environmental Change, vol. 50 , pp. 100-109 , doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.03.005.

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Is public opinion on global climate change stable, with voters holding deeply rooted attitudes that guide them toconsistent policy positions? Or is public opinion malleable, with voters adjusting their environmental positionswhen they learn about the positions of political leaders? To explore whether leaders can influence mass opinionon climate change, we conduct a pair of survey experiments in Australia. Emissions trading plans and renewableenergy targets have been central issues in Australian politics over the last decade, with the members of the majorparties deeply polarized on these issues. Our experiments reveal that survey respondents take different positionson climate change policy when they learn what positions leaders hold. When respondents learn that leaders takedivergent positions on addressing climate change, they become more polarized along party lines. But whenleaders converge on a policy proposal, they also bring those who follow them into closer agreement, providingevidence that partisan polarization at the mass level can be overcome when leaders come together on environmentalpolicies.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Kousser, T and Tranter, B
Keywords: climate change, political attitudes, political leaders, party identification
Journal or Publication Title: Global Environmental Change
Publisher: Elsevier Sci Ltd
ISSN: 0959-3780
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.03.005
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2018 Elsevier Ltd.

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