How to Finance Climate Change Policies
How to Finance Climate Change Policies: The Role of Public Debt and Austerity
This project will examine the intersection of two unprecedented global transformations; the climate crisis and the ballooning debt burdens across the globe. While there is a general consensus on the need for climate action among elites and the public, the public overall willingness to pay for such efforts is much lower. Politicians have circumvented public opposition to public good investments in the past by shifting the fiscal burden on future generations through sovereign borrowing. While this approach is often advocated in response to the fiscal challenges of addressing climate change, it is unknown if 1) borrowing changes citizens’ willingness to pay for investments at home and abroad and 2) if concerns about rising debt might make citizens less likely to adopt climate change investments. The governance challenge is therefore how to design mitigating and adaptive climate policies with the aim of mobilizing public support and increasing public willingness to pay in the current fiscal environment. The project addresses this challenge by examining the degree by which pushing costs forward builds mass support for climate change mitigation investments and how the rhetoric of austerity that accompanies rising debt burdens may reduce that support.