Research Seminar

Malcolm Fairbrother: Trust and Public Support for Environmental Protection

Date: 25 March 2015
Time: 10:00–12:00

Dr Malcolm Fairbrother, University of Bristol

Most people say they are concerned about the serious environmental problems confronting the world today and threatening the well-being of future generations. Yet in practice many are hostile to the very solutions that policy experts most strongly recommend. This presentation will consider the determinants of people's environmental policy preferences, focusing in particular on issues of trust.

As implied by the well-known tragedy of the commons parable, environmental problems arise because people can impose the costs of their actions onto others, rather than paying the full costs themselves. Arrangements for environmental protection are beneficial to individuals when the costs they pay for abatement are compensated by the benefits of proportionate efforts by others; public support for environmental protection should therefore depend on people's trust in others to make such efforts.

Based on multilevel analyses of survey data from a diverse sample of countries, people who report being more trusting are indeed more supportive of environmental protection. The presentation will conclude with some suggestions about how to make environmental policies more attractive to the public, based on the results of survey experiments conducted recently in Britain.

Read more about Malcolm at the University of Bristol

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