9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN12 Environment and Society

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Climate Change Policies Building I, Auditório 4

What Can We Learn From the Welfare State? An Empirical Investigation on Climate Policy

In consequence of the Convention on Climate Change in Rio de Janeiro (1992) we observe increasing political awareness and institutionalization concerning global warming. Until recently, sociological research on Climate Change (CC) only took into account either political arrangements of the Kyoto-Protocol or observed individual attitudes and environmental behaviour on the micro level. As a result these studies lack an understanding of the relationships between macro-economics, national political institutions and social arrangements in a country specific context.
Drawing on the vast literature of welfare state research, this paper corresponds to the question why social democratic welfare states have been pioneers in developing policy for the mitigation of CC. The research refers to country specific pathways of institutional development in two ways.
First, welfare state research is used as a pool of analogical theoretical explanations of national CC institutions and strategies. The paper transfers the Korpi argument of left parties as a source of extending welfare state programs to the strength of Green parties as a source of climate policies. It is demonstrated that strong environmental movements influence climate policy most in countries that rate high on Lijpharts scale of consensus democracy.
Secondly, welfare institutions themselves appear to be resources of climate policies. This paper transfers recent results from Neumayer of the link between the strength of left-wing parties on environmental policy performance to the specific context of CC. The focus is placed on differences within countries, relating them to classic socioeconomic aspects. In doing this, the study explores whether the socioeconomic groups, which support income inequality reducing policies, match the support groups of institutional action for CC.
This holistic approach gives a more detailed insight in country specific institutional strategies of CC mitigation and their individual support. The analysis combines micro data from the World Value Survey and the Eurobarometer with institutional indicators on the macro level (e.g. strength of Green parties) using a multilevel modelling approach.