Explaining Worldwide Climate Change Policy

By Kent R. Kroeger (July 3, 2018)

Climate Change Performance Index 2018 (Source: GermanWatch.org)
Source: Lazard Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis (2017)

The Stickiness of the Economic Growth-Clean Energy Trade-Off

As the two largest economies (and polluters) in the world — the U.S. and China represent the genuine challenges of pursuing strong economic growth while also converting to a 100%-renewable energy economy.

Other Factors Impacting the Adoption of Climate Change Policies

Even as the growth-vs-green trade-off argument rapidly becomes obsolete, there other factors just as important working for and against the ability of signatory nations to comply with the Paris Agreement’s aggressive policy goals.

Source: GermanWatch.org

Freedom Facilitates Substantive Policies on Climate Change

Using a linear model to explain variation in GermanWatch’s CCPI (see Appendix B for the model’s parameters and diagnostics), four variables (along with an indicator for European nations) proved statistically significant: Political freedom (as measured by Freedom House’s Freedom Index), climate risk exposure (as measured by GermanWatch.org), Labor Freedom (as measured by the Heritage Foundation), and economic prosperity (as measured by GDP per capital, PPP, $USD).

DATA SOURCES: GermanWatch.org & Freedom House

Exposure to Climate Risk Fails to Drive Action on Climate Change

Quite surprisingly, a nation’s exposure to the consequences of climate change (e.g., hurricanes, floods, droughts, fires, etc.) makes the country less likely to adopt progressive climate policies (see chart below). It is important to note that GermanWatch’s Climate Risk Index ranges from 0 to 100 where 0 indicates high exposure to climate change’s consequences and 100 indicates no exposure.

DATA SOURCE: GermanWatch.org

Labor Freedom Dampens Action on Climate Change

Almost as surprising as the relationship between climate risk and the CCPI is the finding that higher levels of labor freedom are associated with lower CCPI scores. The chart below shows the bivariate relationship between the Labor Freedom Index and the CCPI.

DATA SOURCES: GermanWatch.org & Heritage Foundation

Economic Prosperity and Action on Climate Change Remain in Conflict

As I addressed the growth-vs-green trade-off earlier in this essay, I will note from the chart below that the bivariate relationship between economic prosperity and the CCPI does not visually appear strong. But this cross-sectional analysis tells us little about the dynamic relationship that other research shows exists between economic growth (GDP annualized change) and greenhouse gas emissions.

DATA SOURCES: GermanWatch.org & Heritage Foundation

Last thoughts…

For those skeptical that the world is on a path to ‘catastrophic’ levels of warming in the next 80 years, I share some of your skepticism; but, also recognize there are other important reasons — such as environmental damage and economic inequality — to end the world’s addiction to fossil fuels sooner rather than later.

SOURCE: GermanWatch.org

I am a survey and statistical consultant with over 30 -years experience measuring and analyzing public opinion (You can contact me at: kroeger98@yahoo.com)

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