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Gendering the European Parliament

Feeling the Heat: Do Climate Extremes Compel Countries to Implement More Ambitious Climate Mitigation Policy?

Environmental Policy
Climate Change
Comparative Perspective
Domestic Politics
Policy Implementation
Energy Policy
Lauri Peterson
Uppsala Universitet
Lauri Peterson
Uppsala Universitet

Meteorological research shows that anthropogenic climate change increases the risk and intensity of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, droughts and sea level rise. The economic and social impacts caused by climate extremes are, however, unevenly distributed across the world. Literatures on public policy and natural hazards management discuss the likelihood of external shocks triggering public action. Governments, however, do not always respond to long-term hazards by introducing new policies. Rather they may respond with denial or continue business as usual. A growing body of research has sought to investigate the particular effect of climate impacts on climate policy. It is ambiguous whether national governments consider the often-lethal effects of extreme weather events such hurricanes, heat waves and floods as a necessary impetus to take further action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
The central aim of this paper is to empirically investigate whether climate change-related natural disasters have an effect on countries’ climate change mitigation policy. Previous studies have shown that municipalities and federated states, which are more exposed to climate impacts, are also more likely to implement more ambitious climate policies. While this potential mechanism has been investigated on the level of local governments, there is a research gap on the level of country governments. Moreover, while most research has relied on in-depth case studies, there is a lack of large-n analyses.
Addressing this knowledge gap, the paper asks the question whether developed countries that have been more significantly affected by climate extremes are more likely to take on more ambitious climate change mitigation policies. Specifically, the analysis investigates the effect of climate exposure on the ambition of climate policy by employing data from 2000 to 2015 from the EM-DAT international disasters database and Germanwatch’s Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) on climate change mitigation policies. The results of the paper contribute to the ever-expanding body of literature on comparative climate politics.
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