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Exploring public opinions on climate change policy in "Big Data Era"—A case study of the European Union Emission Trading System (EU-ETS) based on Twitter

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Abstract

Public awareness has an important effect on the legislation and implementation of climate change policies. Against the backdrop of the "Big Data Era," social media is an appealing and promising tool for a timely and complete understanding of public perception and attitudes towards climate policies. This paper examines the public's spontaneous attention and awareness about carbon emissions trading (ETS). Tweets related to the EU-ETS, published between 2008 and 2019, were collected for multi-dimensional analysis. Empirical results show several important findings. First, public attention on the EU-ETS has increased significantly since 2011. Second, government officials and industry practitioners have a stronger influence in the discussions than the public and industrial enterprises. Third, topic followers mostly gathered in Belgium (16.65%), the UK (11.6%), and some non-regulated countries like the US and Australia. Fourth, the public mainly focused on the policies and legislation, allowance price, and allocation. The innovation of this study rests in the development of a social media data-based research framework to examine the public's cognition of climate policies, which integrates the advantages of public social media, social network analysis, and text topic analysis. This study provides comprehensive analysis and support for climate policy implementation and public acceptance improvement.

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... The underlying conjecture of our analysis was that, for countries that implemented the ETS before they crossed the turning point, the ETS would reduce the positive coefficient between the GDP per capita and the carbon emissions per capita. However, for countries that implemented the ETS after crossing the turning point, a more negative relationship would occur between the GDP per capita and carbon emissions per capita 43,48,49,[51][52][53] . ...
... However, carbon neutrality cannot be achieved without the participation of governments. Among various policies, previous studies have revealed that ETS or other forms of carbon trading policy are among the most effective in promoting low-carbon and sustainable economic development simultaneously 43,48,49,[51][52][53] . The scheme is considered an effective market-based emission reduction method because of its salient merits, including cost-effectiveness, wide coverage, flexibility, and predictable and transparent market environment 43,54,75 . ...
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... Dales J. H. (1986) applied Coase's theorem to point out that pollution is a property right given by the government to the emitting firm, and this discharge right can be transferred by market means so that market instruments can be used to improve the efficiency of environmental pollution control [7]. However, in the comparison of the strength of the role of public awareness and government awareness, the government has more influence than the public and industrial enterprises, so the government should intervene appropriately while using the market [8]. The emissions trading system is the product of the combination of government and market, which is also a major innovation in environmental regulation. ...
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... Some recent studies investigated the 'weak' version of the Porter Hypothesis (PH) and show that market-based instruments influence firms' green innovation (Chen et al. 2021;Fang et al. 2021;Hu et al. 2021;Lyu et al. 2020;Ning et al. 2022;Ren et al. 2020;Wei et al. 2021). However, the findings related to the PH remain inconclusive; although most works found supportive evidence of the PH, Chen et al. (2021) did not find corroborating evidence of the PH in the Chinese listed enterprises. ...
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Greenhouse gas reduction requires joint efforts from the global society, while improving CO2 emission efficiency is a centrally important means to realize emission reduction targets. Therefore, it is of strategic importance to identify main influential factors to CO2 emission efficiency of different countries by considering the technology heterogeneity. The originality herein lies in that, applying the modified decomposition method of Metafrontier Malmquist Luenberger Index (MML) to define the priority of contracting countries in Paris Agreement to improve emission efficiency. In this study, 97 contracting countries of Paris Agreement are divided into 4 groups according to levels of income (low-income countries, lower-middle income countries, upper-middle income countries and high-income countries), and studied with their input and output data during 1990–2014 as samples. The empirical results reveal that the paths for the contracting countries of Paris Agreement to improve the efficiency are different: first, lower-middle income group can be facilitated through increasing factor input to increase the MML index considering the highest increase in scale efficiency (2.78%). Second, low-income group should eliminate the excessive concentration of inputs by enhancing the energy management efficiency. Third, in terms of the significant advancement of high-income group's MML index brought by technology advancement and the abnormal drop of Brunei Darussalam's MML related to technology decay, this analysis emphasized that the advancement and innovation of energy technology are the main force for total-factor CO2 emission efficiency improvement.
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The gap between actual carbon prices and those required to achieve ambitious climate change mitigation could be closed by enhancing the public acceptability of carbon pricing through appropriate use of the revenues raised. In this Perspective, we synthesize findings regarding the optimal use of carbon revenues from both traditional economic analyses and studies in behavioural and political science that are focused on public acceptability. We then compare real-world carbon pricing regimes with theoretical insights on distributional fairness, revenue salience, political trust and policy stability. We argue that traditional economic lessons on efficiency and equity are subsidiary to the primary challenge of garnering greater political acceptability and make recommendations for enhancing political support through appropriate revenue uses in different economic and political circumstances. Ambitious carbon pricing reform is needed to meet climate targets. This Perspective argues that effective revenue recycling schemes should prioritize behavioural considerations that are aimed at achieving greater political acceptance.
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Systematic evidence relating to the performance of carbon pricing – carbon taxes and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions trading systems (ETSs) – is sparse. In 2015, 17 ETSs were operational in 55 jurisdictions while 18 jurisdictions collected a carbon tax. The papers in this special thematic section review the performance of many of these instruments over the 2005–2015 period. The performance of existing carbon taxes and GHG ETSs can help policy makers make informed choices about whether to introduce these instruments and to improve their design. The purpose of carbon pricing instruments is to reduce GHG emissions cost effectively. Assessing their performance is difficult because emissions are also affected by other policies and exogenous factors such as economic conditions. Carbon taxes in Europe prior to 2008 and in British Columbia reduced emissions from business-as-usual but actual emissions continued to rise. Since 2008 emissions subject to European carbon taxes have declined, but in most countries, other mitigation policies have probably contributed more to the reductions than the carbon taxes. Emissions subject to ETSs, with the exception of four systems without emissions caps, have declined. The ETSs contributed to the emissions reductions, but their share of the overall reduction is not known. Most tax rates are low relative to levels thought to be needed to achieve climate change objectives. Few jurisdictions regularly adjust their tax rates. All ETSs have accumulated surplus allowances and implemented measures to reduce these surpluses. The largest ETSs now specify annual reductions in their emissions cap several years into the future. Emissions trading system allowance prices are generally lower than the tax rates. Key policy insights • Theoretical discussions usually portray carbon taxes and GHG ETSs as alternatives. In practice, a jurisdiction often implements both instruments to address emissions by different sources. • Designs of ETSs have evolved based on experience shared bilaterally and via dedicated institutions. • Carbon tax designs, in contrast, have hardly evolved and there are no institutions dedicated to sharing experience. • Every jurisdiction with an ETS and/or carbon tax also has other policies that affect its GHG emissions.
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In the next few years, it is estimated that the aviation sector will account for more than 15% of total GHG emissions against the current 5%. In order to curb emissions and, considering the rapid growth of this industry Directive 101/2008/EC has included the aviation sector in the European Union Emission Trading Scheme (EU-ETS), thus generating additional costs for airlines. This paper develops an original model to analyse the impact of EU-ETS on the aviation sector. This study expands previous researches by explicitly considering abatement efforts in the airline cost function, by highlighting interdependence effects using strategies to reduce emissions, firm actions in the secondary market, free allowances, and fines. Several policy implications, which are particularly useful in an operational perspective, can be derived to support policy-making decisions through a better understanding of the overall EU-ETS effects. The pattern of results suggests the presence of a trade-off in determining profits between the efficiency cost of individual airlines and the share of allowances distributed free of charge. From a regulatory industrial perspective, the higher the latter, the lower the incentives for airlines to reduce GHG emissions. Moreover, the higher is the number of airlines competing on the same air route, the lower is the increase of profits under a Cournot oligopoly, and/or a market collusion structure. Still pending is the final effect of different strategies adopted by airlines in the allowance market.
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Partisan polarization of public opinion is a major trend in American environmental politics. While the national pattern is widely recognized, scholars know much less about the polarization of public opinion over time at the state level. This lack of knowledge is unfortunate because geographic variation in the polarization of opinion is essential for explaining the origins of partisan polarization and evaluating its consequences for policy. To fill the gap, the multilevel regression and poststratification technique is applied to provide credible estimates of state-level environmental public opinion for both Democrats and Republicans, 1973–2012. It appears that the growing partisan gap reflects increased pro-environmental opinion among Democrats across many states, whereas Republican state-level public opinion is converging toward a much lower baseline. Cross-state variation among both parties has decreased over time, contributing to greater partisan polarization in the aggregate. Changes in the sorting of voters in and out of political parties cannot explain these patterns of polarization.
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The paper focuses on enterprising agents in policy formulation and design by looking at their capacity of dealing with different levels of uncertainty. In climate policy specifically, different degrees and types of uncertainties pose a challenge to policymakers. Policy entrepreneurs and the combination of their analytical, operational and political competences are a relevant component in reducing ambiguity in policy design and translating broad policy goals to operational programmes and specific policy instruments. Using the case of the European Emission Trading Scheme, we suggest that the success of policy entrepreneurs in catalysing policy change is determined by their capacity to work against multiple kinds of uncertainty. This ‘uncertainty mitigating’ capacity on the part of policy entrepreneurs rests significantly on balancing managerial expertise and political acumen. We conclude that entrepreneurial capacity goes beyond current definitions in the literature, involving the balance among analytical, operational and political competences to navigate a politicized policy context.
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Climate Outreach works at the interface of research and practice. This paper explains how Climate Outreach have used a Narrative Workshop methodology to test and develop narratives around energy transitions and climate policy with a diverse range of UK citizens. The paper begins by providing the rationale for a more participatory politics of climate change, and why narratives are central to that political process. This is followed with an outline of recent forms of participatory climate change initiatives within the UK. The next section presents a more detailed account of the methodology through an analysis of two recent research projects where the Narrative Workshop methodology has been used. The first case study uses examples from a number of workshops held with centre-right public audiences to demonstrate how the methodology has been applied to identify climate change narratives and vocabulary which reflect conservative values. The second case study illustrates how the methodology was used to create a template for a national climate change conversation in Scotland. The paper concludes with a reflection on the strengths and limits of using the Narrative Workshop methodology to build a broader social consensus on the need for ambitious climate change policies.
Book
This latest Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will again form the standard reference for all those concerned with climate change and its consequences, including students, researchers and policy makers in environmental science, meteorology, climatology, biology, ecology, atmospheric chemistry and environmental policy.
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Increasingly, policy scholars are using the Narrative Policy Framework (NPF) to systematically study the narrative elements and strategies that policy actors and groups use to advance their agendas. The majority of these studies analyze reports, documents, and websites published by the actors and groups that are most active in the policy subsystem. Though useful, these “public consumption documents” can be difficult to find and relatively static. In this article, we suggest that the constant flow of messages and content that competing actors and groups publish on social media may provide a solution to this problem. To test this proposition, we use the NPF to analyze messages published on Twitter by competing advocacy groups in the U.S. nuclear energy policy subsystem from January 2014 to May 2014 (n = 703). We find that both groups use Twitter to disseminate messages that contain the basic elements of policy narratives. Moreover, the narratives they use include strategies that are consistent with their position in the subsystem. These findings demonstrate the utility of the NPF for research on social media and, more importantly, validate the use of Twitter data in future work on the NPF.
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A fundamental policy design choice in government-led climate change mitigation is: what role should flexibility mechanisms like carbon offsetting play in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Since public opinion affects the policy choices of government, we investigate how arguments regarding carbon offsetting's economic efficiency, effectiveness, and ethicality, which have been key points in the public debate, impact the public's preferences. We fielded an online framing experiment in the United States (N=995) to empirically identify how arguments for and against carbon offsetting influence public preferences for the inclusion of offsetting in national GHG mitigation policy. We find that the public's support for international offsetting increases and support for reductions at their source (i.e. within firms' own operations) diminishes when considerations of economic efficiency gains are at the forefront. Support for offsetting declines when individuals are confronted with arguments concerning its effectiveness and ethicality, which suggests that future policies will require clear standards of additionality in order to address these concerns. Moreover, we find that how carbon offsetting is framed matters even amongst climate skeptics and support could potentially be enhanced via improved communication on efficiency gains.
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Living in an age of big data, this study explores (a) how much certain online information is shared by media users and (b) what sentiments do social media users predominantly express on Twitter. Quantitative findings indicate that after the 2011 nuclear disaster at Fukushima Japan, the amount of nuclear energy-related tweets that were linked to outside information far outnumbered tweets containing no external link. Results also indicate that the predominant tone in these tweets was one of pessimism about nuclear energy.
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Ambitious policies for limiting climate change require strong public support. However, the public's appetite for such policies, as observed in most countries, is rather limited. One possibility for enhancing public support could be to shift the main justification in the public policy discourse on greenhouse gas mitigation from benefits of reducing climate change risks (the conventional justification) to other types of benefit. Technological innovation, green jobs, community building and health benefits are widely discussed candidates. The intuition is that reframing greenhouse gas mitigation efforts and their benefits in such terms could make them more personally relevant as well as more emotionally engaging and appealing to citizens. On the basis of results from two survey-embedded experiments (combined N = 1,675), and in contrast to some earlier studies, we conclude that simple reframing of climate policy is unlikely to increase public support, and outline reasons for this finding. As the added value of other justifications remains unclear at best and potentially nil, sticking to climate risk reduction as the dominant justification seems worthwhile.
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The impacts of climate change are already visible throughout the world. Recognizing the threats posed by climate change, the Durban Platform, the 17th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP 17), underscores that the global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible cooperation and ambitious action by all countries. A crucial starting point for the design of effective and publicly acceptable policies is to explore public preferences for climate policy instruments. Using a choice experiment, this study investigates public preferences for carbon tax attributes in a developing country context. The results account for heterogeneity in preferences and show that Turkish people prefer a carbon tax with a progressive cost distribution rather than one with a regressive cost distribution. The private cost has a negative effect on the probability of choosing the tax. Earmarking carbon tax revenues increases the public acceptability of the tax. Moreover, there is a preference for a carbon tax that promotes public awareness of climate change.
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We study the short-term price behavior of Phase 2 EU emission allowances. We model returns and volatility dynamics, and we demonstrate that a standard ARMAX-GARCH framework is inadequate for this modeling and that the gaussianity assumption is rejected due to a number of outliers. To improve the fitness of the model, we combine the underlying price process with an additive stochastic jump process. We improve the model's performance by introducing a time-varying jump probability that is explained by two variables: the daily relative change in the volume of transactions and the European Commission's announcements regarding the supply of permits. We show that (i) sharp increases in volume have led to increased volatility during the April 2005–December 2007 period but not for the period beginning in January 2008, and (ii) announcements induce jumps in the process that tend to increase volatility across both periods. Thus, authorities face a trade off between disseminating information effectively and promoting market stability.
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It is widely believed that international cooperation can arise through strategies of reciprocity. In this paper, we investigate whether citizens in the United States and 25 other countries support reciprocity to deal with climate change. We find little public enthusiasm for intrinsic reciprocity, in which countries restrain their consumption of fossil fuels if and only if other countries do the same. In contrast, we find significant support for extrinsic reciprocity, in which countries enforce cooperation by linking issues. Citizens support economic sanctions against polluters and are willing to shame them in international forums, especially when the polluters are violating a treaty. Cooperation could, therefore, emerge from efforts to link climate with other issues and to embed climate commitments in international law.
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This study examined whether people living in the US connect their sensory experiences with local temperature to climate change and whether mass media influences the process. We used the volume of Twitter messages containing words “climate change” and “global warming” as the indicator of attention that public pays to the issue. Specifically, the goals were: (1) to investigate whether people immediately notice substantial local weather anomalies such as deviations from long-term mean temperatures and connect them to climate change by contributing to climate change discourse on Twitter and (2) to examine the role of mass media in this process. Over 2 million tweets were collected for a two-year period (2012 – 2013) and were assigned to 157 urban areas in the continental US. The rate of tweeting on climate change was regressed on the time variables, number of climate change publications in the mass media, and a number of temperature variables. The analysis was conducted at the two levels of aggregation – national and local. The high significance of the mass media and temperature variables in the majority of regression models suggests that both the weather and mass media coverage control public interest to the topic. However, no convincing evidence was found that the media acts as a mediator in the relationship between local weather and climate change discourse. Overall, the findings confirmed that the public recognize extreme temperature anomalies and connect these anomalies to climate change.
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The present study provides a review of existing assessments of preferences for climate change mitigation and adaptation policies through a worldwide meta-analysis. In this study, we analyze the impact of social values and norms on preferences towards climate change adaptation and mitigation policies. In a sample of 58 international studies, we found that mitigation actions were preferred over adaptation actions, and that preferences towards climate change policies are affected by attitudes towards time and social norms. In particular, societies with a long-term orientation display greater support towards climate change policies. These results therefore reveal the role of social factors as being crucial in order to understand the acceptability of climate change policies at a worldwide level.
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We describe latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA), a generative probabilistic model for collections of discrete data such as text corpora. LDA is a three-level hierarchical Bayesian model, in which each item of a collection is modeled as a finite mixture over an underlying set of topics. Each topic is, in turn, modeled as an infinite mixture over an underlying set of topic probabilities. In the context of text modeling, the topic probabilities provide an explicit representation of a document. We present efficient approximate inference techniques based on variational methods and an EM algorithm for empirical Bayes parameter estimation. We report results in document modeling, text classification, and collaborative filtering, comparing to a mixture of unigrams model and the probabilistic LSI model.
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This paper provides the first willingness-to-pay (WTP) estimates in support of a national climate-change policy that are comparable with the costs of actual legislative efforts in the U.S. Congress. Based on a survey of 2034 American adults, we find that households are, on average, willing to pay between $79 and $89 per year in support of reducing domestic greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions 17% by 2020. Even very conservative estimates yield an average WTP at or above $60 per year. Taking advantage of randomized treatments within the survey valuation question, we find that mean WTP does not vary substantially among the policy instruments of a cap-and-trade program, a carbon tax, or a GHG regulation. But there are differences in the sociodemographic characteristics of those willing to pay across policy instruments. Greater education always increases WTP. Older individuals have a lower WTP for a carbon tax and a GHG regulation, while greater household income increases WTP for these same two policy instruments. Republicans, along with those indicating no political party affiliation, have a significantly lower WTP regardless of the policy instrument. But many of these differences are no longer evident after controlling for respondent opinions about whether global warming is actually happening.