U.S.-Canada climate public opinion and urban climate governance panel

April 12, 2022 0:59:56
Kaltura Video

A panel of authors present their key findings in two papers from 2020-21's North American Colloquium on climate policy. April, 2022.


0:00:00.0 Brendan: So good afternoon everybody, thanks for joining us. And this is the third and final event of a series of three web events that are marking the release of eight reports on the topic of North American Climate Policy. I'm Brendan Boyd, I'm Assistant Professor of Political Science at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and I'll be monitoring today's event on the topic of the US/Canada public opinion and urban climate governance. So these events are a product of the 2020/2021 North American colloquium on climate policy, the North American colloquium is a collaborative venture between the University of Ford School of Public Policy, particularly its international policy center. It also involves the University of Toronto and the Autonomous National University of Mexico.

0:00:58.5 Brendan: So it was established in 2018, and it brings together leading academics and analysts as well as practitioners from Mexico, Canada and the United States to address key public policy issues that have faced all three countries, and this year, of course, the issue was climate change. So these events and reports on the topic of North American Climate Policy have also enjoyed generous support from the Needy Family Foundation. And so today we're gonna talk about two different papers, first off, we have a paper by Erick Lachapelle and Christopher Borick, which is called, "A Decade of Comparative Climate in Canadian and American Public Opinion on Climate Change." And then we also have, "City Powers and the Governance of Urban GHG Emissions in the US and Canada," which is a paper by Sarah Hughes from the University of Michigan.

0:01:54.3 Brendan: So just... I'm gonna take... I guess what we're gonna do today is I'll talk really briefly, very, very briefly about the papers quickly, and then we'll quickly turn it over to the authors to talk about their papers. Then after that, I will provide a few questions to the authors and then we'll finish up with some questions from the audience. So first of all, I think in terms of the Lachapelle and Borick's paper, I think it's really important because it gets us past some of the broad sort of caricatures or stereotypes that we have about public opinion in Canada and the US. I started to dig into that, and the takeaway for me is that although there's a lot of evidence there that could appear frustrating to advocates or other people that are looking at pushing climate policy, what we see is that there is some convergence around public opinion, although that hasn't translated into policy yet, that really speaks to the importance of collaboration amongst the two countries, and also really speaks to the importance of this initiative around North American climate policy.

0:03:03.7 Brendan: In terms of the second paper, I think it really highlights the importance of multi-level or polycentric governance, and we consistently need to fight that pull to focus on the national spotlight where the debates are big and large and can push out some of the more local action that's going on on climate change. And I think the main takeaway that I got from this is that what we're really looking for here when we look at municipal governance is smart practices rather than best practices, because there's not gonna be necessarily one best practice, but we can learn potentially from what some municipalities have done. So with that brief introduction, I'm gonna turn it over to Erick and Chris to provide some comments and reflection on their paper, they will then be followed by Sarah's.

0:03:57.2 Erick: Okay, thanks. Thanks for that introduction, Brendan. First, I wanna thank Josh and Barry and everyone involved in developing this NAC project. It's been a lot of fun to be part of this great group of scholars, and I'm very happy to be here today to present some neat comparative data that this project is a part of. So, for over more than a decade or so, Chris and I have done extensive cross-border comparative polling across Canada and the United States under the guise of the American and Canadian Surveys on Energy and the Environment. So Chris is located at Muhlenberg College and myself at the Université de Montréal. So these comparative polls happened at least once every fall, and they have taken on a number of different iterations. Depending on the year and what's going on in climate policy and climate politics, we might focus on carbon pricing, we did a few deep dives, I guess you could call them on carbon pricing, looking at the effects of weather, adaptation, for example.

0:05:01.1 Erick: But each year we always ask a standard set of questions on beliefs and policy support that help us track the state of attitudes in Canada and in the United States, with respect to climate change. And so our project is very much in line with the spirit of this North American colloquium forum. I'd like to start today, maybe by situating at a high level, our contribution to this colloquium in the broader context of research on attitudes towards climate and energy issues. As many of you know much of the research, so of course not all, on public attitudes toward climate change is conducted in the United States. And there's a large growing literature, exponentially so, on US climate attitudes, but also other parts of the world, such as the UK, Australia, advanced countries.

0:05:54.4 Erick: And we know from this research that one of the underlying factors that structure attitudes on energy and climate is partisanship. In line with this research and others, we also find that a defining feature of climate attitudes in Canada and the United States is partisanship. And I think this is important because we're able to see to what extent do the dynamics we see in the United States, to what extent are these found in other areas of the world? And so, partisanship is an important feature of Canadian climate attitudes. In fact, what strikes me most about the work Chris and I have done over the past 10 years is just how similar public dynamics are in both countries, or the public opinion dynamics are in both countries. So let's take, for example, climate change beliefs, which we look at in this particular paper.

0:06:49.0 Erick: For a long time, we saw that American attitudes were more prone to short-term shifts, while Canadian attitudes were much more consistent over time. So in Canada, you have relatively straight levels of beliefs, and in the United States, you kind of see this up and down. But there's a general trend. But much more volatile in the case of the United States. But the striking feature looking at the comparative angle is, it wasn't uncommon to find the same percentage of Canadians believing in global warming over time, while the average in the US fluctuated. But sorry, what really comes out is the enduring difference between Canadian and American beliefs with respect to climate change.

0:07:33.2 Erick: With each poll, we'd see substantively larger proportions of Canadians believing in climate change science relative to Americans, but looking at the data, we found that the average Canadian held views much more in line with the average Democrat. So the real outliers here were Republicans. But at the aggregate level, we would find that a substantial 20 percentage points difference was not uncommon. So in Canada, you'd have maybe 80% or 85% of the population that believes climate change is happening. And that would be about 20 percentage points lower in the United States, and that was kind of a consistent feature over time. On the flip side, if we look at climate change denial or skepticism, we similarly found large differences. As you might expect, Americans, particularly Republicans, were much more likely to outright deny that the average temperature on Earth is warming. Nearly half of Republicans held this view at the beginning of the decade, not so long ago.

0:08:31.2 Erick: Today, Republicans views have shifted quite a bit in an interesting way with fewer denying the existence of climate change and more of them viewing climate change as something that's real, but a natural phenomenon. So Republicans in the United States are less in denial about the existence of a warming planet than they are of human activity as the primary cause. And this is an important shift I would argue in the politics of climate change in the United States, and we try and flush that out a little bit, at least on the paper. I'm happy to discuss that in the Q&A. In Canada, we have a similar dynamic but with important nuances. As in the United States, we also find that right-leaning voters are more likely to deny the existence of climate change, as well as its anthropogenic origins.

0:09:17.7 Erick: But in Canada, contrary to what we saw in the United States, or what we see in the United States, conservative attitudes have changed very little. No less than a third of right-leaning voters in Canada deny the existence of climate change, while one in five believe it's a natural phenomenon, and this has remained consistent over the entire decade. The last example I'll speak to before handing things over is the carbon tax. Now, the carbon tax is interesting for a number of reasons, first, because it represents a major policy difference between Canada and the United States. As you probably already know, Canada has had a federal carbon tax policy in place since 2019 while it's been very, very difficult to institute carbon taxes in the United States. Second, another reason why the carbon tax example is so interesting, is it's also an area in which public opinion arguably plays a greater role in explaining this difference between Canada and the United States.

0:10:22.0 Erick: Now, I'm not going to argue that public opinion is the primary determining factor, but I would argue that public opinion is a major constraint on policy in general, and on a carbon tax policy in particular. And especially because as policies are more salient, public opinion becomes more salient, and this is the case of the carbon tax. So we can point to several examples in the United States where public opinion has played a determining role in killing carbon tax proposals such as a few in Washington state, whereas in Canada, public opinion played a pretty important role in the durability of the Federal carbon tax by allowing the Trudeau Liberals to continue governing the country following two elections. Two-thirds of the Canadian electorate voted for a political party that supports a carbon tax, so the dynamics are pretty interesting there. But before handing things over to Chris, I maybe wanna shift to the implications of some of the patterns I've sketched out.

0:11:37.5 Erick: One of Canada's two largest political parties, the Conservative Party of Canada, needs to appeal to mainstream voters if it wants to win an election. The problem is that the vast majority of mainstream voters in Canada are on side with basic climate change science. They see climate change as a problem, they believe temperatures are warming, they want governments to come up with credible solutions. And as climate change becomes more salient, as it has in the past few elections in Canada, this has hurt the Conservative Party or any party that denies climate change for that matter, or has a hard time proposing credible solutions. So the question for Conservative Parties across the country becomes, how do they appeal to mainstream voters while not alienating their base? And that's something I think is a crucial question for Conservative Parties in this country moving forward. With that, I'll hand things over to Chris.

0:12:32.6 Chris: Thank you so much, Erick. And I'll join you in thanking Josh and Barry and everybody that's involved with the project. It really was an amazing opportunity for us. As Erick mentioned, we've been at this now for a decade, and it really was a great time to kind of take stock, if you will, about what we've done over that decade, and these broad takeaways on comparative US and Canadian beliefs, acceptance, policy preferences, saliency on the issue. So I was very happy to have the opportunity to be engaged with the project. And as Erick said, over the decade, we've seen some shifts in attitudes and acceptance. Largely both Canadians and Americans compared to a decade ago, are more accepting of the problem, more are reporting that they're experiencing the problem, more acknowledging the nature of the issue and its impact.

0:13:38.7 Chris: The changes in the US, as Erick noted, over this last decade. When we started this... Barry and I actually started a US version of this a few years before we aligned with Erick, and we had seen some major shifts over a three-year period where there was a 20% drop in acceptance in climate change in the US by the time we were starting this project with Erick. And in some ways, I think that the vibe that we saw at that point was the high water point in division, in beliefs between Canadians and Americans, and so that's narrowed a little bit. But as Erick noted, a number of those things remain consistent in terms of the differences, with Canadians largely being more acceptance. So you might look and think, "Okay, have we entered a new stage?" As we took this on in 2020 with acceptance in both countries being higher belief in the problem, experiencing the problem, which a lot of our surveys have shown.

0:14:37.6 Chris: And of course, the juxtaposition of beliefs and acceptance with marginal progress, not inconsequential, but marginal progress and things like mitigation, it starts to raise the questions of divergence between opinion and policy. Does opinion lead? Does it matter? Does it shift the efforts in these two countries? And it's a big question, and one of the things... There's a couple of factors that I think our paper and other research calls attention to on the policy front and that's the underlying acceptance of anthropogenic factors. As Erick noted, we have a large majority. In fact, in our latest poll, three-quarters of Americans say there's solid evidence of climate change, a significant group within that cohort says that it's either completely a natural cycle or that it's a combination.

0:15:37.2 Chris: Those groups are strikingly different with those that believe it's anthropogenic at it's sources. If you think it's a natural cycle, which a significant portion does, your policy preferences, your concern levels, the issue of saliency are very different than those. And those divides, I think, are worthy of consistent focus in this study and others. And one of the major factors, I believe, and Erick has shared and perhaps why we don't see more movement in terms of the policy front. The other part of the puzzle, as Erick noted, the issue of saliency. And saliency has increased, but relative saliency of climate in both of our studies, the US and the Canadian version, lags behind other issues. And when people ask me, "Why isn't policy and opinion aligning more on this issue?" I'll go to saliency time and time again as the lead in that. We tested in the 2020 elections in Canada or in the US and Canada, the last federal elections, how this issue plays.

0:16:52.3 Chris: And certainly, significant portions of the electorate identified in both countries the issue as important and salient, but relative to other issues we tested, again, it lagged. This mirrors lots of other studies that we've seen. In the US, Pew has done a number of these placing climate in a laggard position, if you will, and I think that still remains one of the driving factors in why we might not see more convergence with policy preferences and actual policy in both countries. The last thing I'll say is, we're kind of at this interesting point, and Erick and I are kind of at our next stage of where we're leaving this, is to look a little bit at maybe where the public turns. As we continue to struggle in both countries to achieve really consequential mitigation that might align with the science on this issue just to really slow the growth of climate change to a manageable level, where does the public turn? 

0:18:01.9 Chris: Do they turn to a greater focus on adaptation? Do they turn to the possibility of geo-engineered approaches to dealing with the problem? In our last few iterations of our project, we're starting to explore those possibilities and we're a public that accepts the issue, is concerned about the issue, is met with policy struggles. I think, the moment we're in, in the US right now, the spring in terms of climate policy and the Biden agenda is another example of perhaps the public's beliefs and acceptance on the issue, meeting with a policy situation that doesn't deliver. So plenty of more to come. We hope to share that. We're gonna be in Montréal as Erick noted, but before we're at APSA this fall, and we'll hopefully have some updated version on this. But we were really excited to be able to put a lot of this into form and share in this project. So thanks so much.

0:19:10.0 Brendan: Okay, thank you both for that presentation, and so just before I turn it over to Sarah, I will mention for the audience that if you have questions, what you can do is put them in the chat and then I will choose... I'll try to get to as many questions as I can. I've got some of my own as well that I'll do mine first, but then we'll try to quickly get to audience questions, and I'll try to do my best to get as many read and to the presenters as possible. But before we do that, let's turn it over to Sarah to get some comments on her paper on urban climate governance.

0:19:48.4 Sarah: Great, thank you very much, and thank you to Josh and Barry, for me as well, for the invitation to participate in this effort, it really has been a fantastic experience, and I was realizing it's been a little over a year or two, I think, so it's just been great. And I'll say thank you as well to Heather and Brendon, for their comments on the first version of this paper, too, which were very helpful. So the paper is about urban climate mitigation policy and governance, looking at the city level, and the sort of background for the paper, it's based on research I've been doing related to urban climate governance broadly, but also specifically some fieldwork I had done in New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto that was the basis for a book project. And this paper then was a really nice opportunity to think more explicitly about how specifically the authority and jurisdiction of city government in a comparative context shapes the successes that cities can or do or should have in meeting their greenhouse gas emissions goals. So this has been an ongoing interest of mine is, "What does it look like to actually implement some of the goals we have for our cities?" And so it was a nice opportunity to think really explicitly about that comparative institutional piece.

0:21:38.4 Sarah: So let me say a little bit about why we should care about cities and climate change or position cities within this conversation a little bit. There's a couple of reasons I often use to motivate this, and one is that cities are responsible for a big chunk of our global fossil fuel emissions, so they're a key source of emissions, nearly 75% of global fossil fuel emissions globally come from cities, and a lot of this is driven by emissions from large wealthy cities like the ones that we have... Well, many of the ones that we have in the US and Canada, so especially North American, US and Canadian cities, have large carbon footprints relative to other parts of the world, and so in a way then it means we're not, to a certain extent, addressing these emissions and the kind of urban origins of these emissions is necessary to meet our broader goals for climate change. And the second motivation then, too, is that Crystal is asking, "Where does the public turn?" One place they turn is to their local government to see if they might have some better success there, and they often do. And as a result, cities and North American cities, again in particular, have been something of policy leaders at the global and regional levels in terms of...

0:23:12.7 Sarah: Setting greenhouse gas emissions targets, making plans, making efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in that way, and US and Canadian cities in particular have been the real leaders since the '90s, even in adopting Kyoto targets, adopting Paris targets and things like this. So there is policy leadership happening and at this point... Well, so I should say is that leadership has played out in a couple of ways, on one hand, we have a whole host of individual city plans, hundreds if not thousands of cities that have plans in place to reduce their emissions, and it's also led to this formation of different types of city coalitions and transnational networks of cities and things like this, and some of their policy leadership has also come from that collective voice as well.

0:24:15.5 Sarah: And a third piece, I'll highlight, is that a lot of cities now at this point, too, are working to incorporate and emphasize social justice in their climate planning with many cities, including the three that I'm focusing on in the paper, re-branding their climate planning under the Green New Deal type language and framing. So at this point, the entry point for this then is we have these plans and cities are important, there's a lot of policy activity happening, but what did these plans all add up to in a way, we have, like I said, hundreds, if not thousands of individual commitments and targets and that cities have in place, but what does it mean to really implement these and have real meaningful reductions and emissions as a result? And in a lot of ways, there's a lot of different pieces of evidence that point to an implementation gap in cities.

0:25:22.7 Sarah: So I won't go through all the details of that, but that's a part of the narrative is that we have these plans, they're beautiful, the graphic design is getting really sophisticated, but that there's... The most common result when you start to really unpack some of it is that implementation has been slow, implementation lags behind where we would like it. And so that's a big question in the larger book project as well. But what I highlight in this paper then is that...

0:25:56.7 Sarah: One of the key reasons I think that implementation is so challenging for cities is because of the complex sets of... Complex and overlapping sets of jurisdiction that are in place surrounding urban sources of greenhouse gas emissions. And so cities are not operating, local governments aren't operating with a complete jurisdiction over their emission sources. And that creates some unique obstacles and governance challenges to then moving from having a plan to reduce your emissions 80 by 2050 to actually seeing these goals realized, achieving those kinds of deep reductions in emissions really requires a whole of city approach. Deep transformations to urban infrastructures and economies, especially if we're also talking about incorporating social justice aims.

0:26:57.2 Sarah: And so state, provincial, federal governments, these all play a role in determining what local governments can and cannot do, what they're incentivized to do, where there's funding available, other types of incentives, and it also shapes the broader political, economic environment that they're operating within and that their potential partners are operating within as well.

0:27:24.7 Sarah: So the implementation story for cities then is not so straightforward, and I think it also raises questions about how we should be evaluating and... What's the word I'm searching for? Grading, if you will, the successes that city governments are having. So thinking really specifically then in the paper about what role cities do play in the US and Canada, the way I kind of unpack this is to look specifically within the three largest sectors that cities are working within, when they're looking to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and that energy production, energy use and transportation systems.

0:28:13.6 Sarah: So those three sectors are where most urban green house gas emissions come from, and where cities are typically looking to act in order to meet their greenhouse gas reduction goals. And so in the paper, I outline some examples of how the role that cities play, city governments play in those three sectors can vary... Can be highly variable, both within and between the US and Canada, so there's no sort of clear answer to what roles city governments play in the energy production in the US, and there's no clearance or to what role they play in energy production in Canada.

0:28:56.7 Sarah: And so it's really a mix, but when it comes to actually understanding the implementation and governance process, that's what we have to be unpacking. So I give some examples of municipally owned energy utilities, provincially driven energy generation schemes, privatization or municipalization efforts in the US. I also talk about the variation in terms of how cities can govern energy demand through things like municipal building codes, where in some cases, particularly in the US, cities can play a large role, can set really aggressive and kind of climate-oriented building codes that can make a big difference for energy demand.

0:29:43.0 Sarah: That's not often the case in Canada, they have to find other ways to incentivize energy efficiency retrofits besides the building codes. And then in terms of the transportation sector, one are the big pieces or one of the big changes cities would often like to see is expanding public transportation opportunities, getting people out of cars and this kind of thing, but here too jurisdiction gets particularly complicated in both countries in part because of the need for large capital investments for a lot of these big projects. New Light Rail Line, new subways, even bus, rapid transit, a lot of these take a lot of upfront costs to put in place.

0:30:30.3 Sarah: So even if the city has a lot of control over their transit system, that's different than having the capital necessary to make a big change. So making sense of all this are taking some key points away from the comparison, then I try to highlight a few things. And one is, like Brendan was hinting at in the intro is that there isn't going to be a one-size-fits-all, either within or between the countries, different policy strategies will work differently in different contexts. And I think that what I really try to emphasize is that there should be more emphasis on learning about governance strategies, partnership building, leveraging resources, how to get the movement of...

0:31:20.4 Sarah: How to get the machinery of urban governance moving toward a project rather than how to write the perfect municipal building code, because that might not be relevant everywhere. For that reason, I think too, this collaboration is gonna be really critical at the urban scale. And the last point I'll highlight too, is also going back to some of what Brendan was saying is that while cities are playing a leadership role in some ways on climate policy, and taking some steps to try to move things forward, state, provincial national governments are going to be really key, I think in a lot of places.

0:32:10.7 Sarah: That's the level we're kind of waiting for to help scale things up, to help take things to the next level in a lot of places, and so the role of cities will vary in different sectors and from place to place, but we know that supportive state national policies are consistently found to really underpin effective urban climate mitigation efforts. So that sort of vertical collaboration, I guess as well, is gonna be quite important. Thank you very much.

0:32:49.0 Brendan: Alright, thank you. So yeah, as you can see, lots of great content here that we can dig into, I guess what I'll do is I will ask one question of my own to each of the presenters, and then we'll turn it over to see if there are any questions from the audience.

0:33:11.8 Brendan: So my first question is, for Erick and Christopher, and Sarah actually mentioned The Green New Deal. And I guess I'm just wondering if this has signaled in the US, particularly amongst maybe Democrats and the Democratic Party, a move away from market-based instruments to instruments that have a greater role for government or a greater government involvement as opposed to market-based instruments.

0:33:39.3 Brendan: And so I guess I'm interested in your sense of whether the support for carbon tax, we've always thought of it as the movement of conservatives to become more and more accepting over time, and that kind of people on the left side, were already there, but is it possible we might see a degradation or a reduction in the support for a carbon tax, or did you come across any evidence of this from people that are now thinking we need to do what some would consider more or would have a larger involvement for government in terms of the policy instruments selection? 

0:34:19.6 Erick: I think that's a great question. Chris, did you wanna go? I have things to say, but if you wanted to go first, give the US perspective or...

0:34:25.9 Chris: Go ahead. You could lead, Erick.

0:34:29.3 Erick: Yeah, well, I think your questions in particularly, and I think points to the Green New Deal discussions were much more prominent in the United States, in Canada was The Green... Forgot how it was framed in French nouveau allons vert, the green recovery, I guess from COVID.

0:34:49.1 Erick: So I think one of the things, COVID did, and it's done a lot of... The pandemic has had a lot of implications, political ramifications is I think it's shifted the baseline in terms of... I think there's the public appetite for more government policy has changed, or the public acceptability of government role has increased.

0:35:14.6 Erick: It has always been larger in Canada, that's something we've actually been able to track in some of our surveys going back in the earlier surveys we looked at whose responsibility should climate change be, federal government, provincial government, municipal governments, and in Canada, it's like all of the above and way higher than whatever you're gonna find in the United States.

0:35:32.4 Erick: So there's always been a larger appetite in Canada for government intervention, but I do think that the carbon tax is, especially with the increases, while the increase, it increased in April, the cost of living concerns are very much on the rise in Canada, I can...

0:35:51.5 Erick: There's some recent polling I've done that really shows that, and I think market-based instruments to the extent that they work through putting a price, through the price signal towards consumers and working on the demand side, they're gonna be facing maybe a bit stiffer opposition, and they've always been controversial, they raised very important distributional justice questions in terms of who they affect more and whatnot.

0:36:20.3 Erick: And so I think that you're absolutely right to pose that question, I think it's really interesting to see... We're going back to discussions we've actually had a few years ago when we were... When market-based instruments were still up for debate, it's as if in the last few years, they were taken as a given, but initially they were much more controversial, and we looked at the relative popularity, I guess you could call it, of market based instruments versus government regulations and government regulations tended to be more popular until you put a price tag on them of course.

0:36:56.8 Erick: But never the less, government regulations have always been more popular. That, and I think this increased appetite for, or this increased acceptance of government playing a role in addressing these broad collective action problems and these broad crises could open the door for more government-type regulations and less market-based instruments but I'm curious to see what Chris has to say.

0:37:21.4 Chris: Yeah, it was great response, Erick. And Brandan, I love the question and as you could tell, by all the grey in my beard, I've been around for a long time, and it's interesting to see the evolution of these market-based policies in terms of public acceptance.

0:37:45.4 Chris: Back when they emerged, they were often hailed as more conservative avenues to dealing with problems by putting prices on aspects of externalities through carbon trade or carbon taxes or other means like that.

0:38:02.7 Chris: And we've really seen... We pick this up a lot of our polling work right at the end of 2008-2009, when those issues were being put into the policy attempts in the US and to a degree in Canada, and the reframing of those as these government intrusions through things like, "We're not carbon trade, we're carbon tax."

0:38:27.5 Chris: And so we really have seen a persistent and strong divide, ideological, partisan divide on market-based instruments that were once hailed as conservative options to do this. They've always remained unpopular. And I haven't... And Erick maybe could add on this, we haven't seen a gigantic shift in that we have seen rise and fall of support among individuals ideologically for various, various options.

0:39:00.8 Chris: The conservatives, I think Erick is right, we've actually seen support some of those more regulatory means comparative to some of the market-based options as you start putting regulatory means on there and those types of policies to increase energy efficiency. So, it is a fascinating kind of development that's been permeated our work over the last 15 years.

0:39:29.6 Brendan: Yeah, thanks for that. That's really, really interesting. I think obviously, measuring public opinion and how it shifts around the instruments is really fascinating, and how it connects to actual saliency and awareness of climate change is really interesting. So yeah, so Erick and Chris were both touched on the idea of inflation and whether that's gonna have an impact on carbon pricing, and I actually was thinking about in this in the context of Sarah's paper as well. So my question for Sarah is, your paper talked about coalition building and framing as being really important, and I found that to be really interesting and valuable. And what I was thinking was, given the importance of inflation concerns, do you see this as something that could really increase support for things like energy efficiency programs? And then how would we structure those programs and communicate them to address those concerns, as opposed to being a road block, an opportunity to say, "Look, we can do more efficiency in buildings and other things as well," but based on people's... Like Erick mentioned, people's real concern about inflation, particularly in Canada. I'm not as sure about the debate in the US, but I assume it's important there as well.

0:40:49.4 Sarah: Yeah, that's a great question. And I think that when energy efficient... The successful energy efficiency programs I've seen... I'm thinking about Toronto in particular, actually. They're typically framed as money-saving programs rather than a climate program or this kind of thing. I always... This is one of my favorite examples. But, I mean, in Toronto, Rob Ford signed an energy efficiency rebate program as a kind of "get government off the gravy train" kind of program. So I think that, yeah, it's a good point. I think that will help that narrative or help just be more motivation toward that idea that energy efficiency helps ease the pain, takes the burden off, and that kind of thing. I wonder... I'm just speculating. I still also hear things... We just have this sustainability ambassadors training in Ann Arbor that I was part of. And you still people... You still hear people concerned about the upfront costs, and so I still wonder about that, getting the upfront cost to buy the new water heater or the window replacement, I think people... I still get this as people want government to play a role in that. You want us to do XYZ, help me make it happen, kind of thing. But maybe this helps meet in the middle a little bit more, or it helps at the margins kind of thing, at least.

0:42:40.1 Brendan: Right. Yeah, that example of Doug Ford really stood out to me in your paper too as well, right? 

0:42:47.4 Sarah: It's my favorite.

0:42:49.4 Brendan: As a... Not something that you would expect to see, but you do have conservative politicians in Canada, at least, going around the country trying to make just inflation, and to tie inflation to Justin Trudeau and the liberal government. They're trying to make that happen. So I think that really politicians seemed to... And Erick maybe confirmed this, is that that's a big... It's a big issue on people's minds right now, and hopefully it doesn't become a detraction to climate action as opposed... Hopefully, it becomes an opportunity.

0:43:15.3 Sarah: Sure, yeah, right.

0:43:19.2 Brendan: So let's move to some of the audience questions. The first one I have is for David Bernstein, and I guess I didn't ask if you could put maybe who this is for as well. I think I can probably tell who it's for, or if it's for both people. That would help as well. But I think... I'll open it up, obviously, for anybody to... Any of the presenters to comment on. So the first one from David Bernstein is, "Is there a partisan divide in CO2 emissions per capita in the US or elsewhere?"

0:43:53.0 Chris: I think I'll jump in, and if I get it right... Obviously, if you look at states as kind of a unit of analysis... I'm sure we could do this with urban areas too. You see some significant differences across states in the US. And Erick, you could jump in on the provincial aspect of this. If you measured on a per capita basis, I think the answer is yes, right? We see considerable differences across. There's not a perfect kind of linear relationship between states and per capita emissions, but certainly I think there's a relationship. Erick, is that true for Canada? 

0:44:40.2 Erick: Yeah. So it's an interesting angle, I think. We never really explicitly looked at in that way, but there's clearly some relationship between the greenhouse gas intensity of the province somebody lives into the average level of belief in climate science, for instance. And so it's not true for all of Alberta, and it's important to make those distinctions. There are differences within provinces. But at the aggregate level, places like Alberta, which have a high per capita emissions, and Saskatchewan as well, are very different in terms of public attitudes towards climate change than somewhere like Quebec, which has the lowest per capita emissions in the country. If I'm reading the question correctly, then yes, there's that kind of a correlation. We also, in a recent paper with some colleagues at UBC and at the University of California, Santa Barbara... This was raised by one of the reviewers in the paper, and so we were looking at the extent to which conservatives versus liberals, loosely, like small-l liberals, small-c conservatives in Canada... To what extent are they exposed to the carbon tax, like their cost exposure? And to what extent might that be a reason why they oppose carbon taxes? And we actually found no difference in the cost exposure between the two. But that's at the individual level, not at the aggregate level.

0:46:13.4 Sarah: I'll say one thing... I know this wasn't for me, but I feel like there's pretty good evidence that emissions are tied to income and I wonder what drives what 'cause there's also maybe income in partisan relationships, but that's been some of the strongest patterns I've seen in terms of explaining the spatial variation of emissions.

0:46:47.8 Brendan: Yeah, that's interesting. I'm out here in Alberta and yeah, it's interesting. We get people that will make the argument that, of course, we don't consume all of the emissions per capita so there's a difference between personal emissions and then just the per capita of dividing the number of people by the emissions, but I'm not trying to let Alberta off the hook in any respect at all. So I have another question here. This one is to Sarah. This is from Purity and it said to Sarah, "Great paper there. I'm just wondering if climate science contestation is also influencing the urgency of climate change mitigation action in cities?"

0:47:36.4 Sarah: That's a great question. And so what I've seen is that... I think there is some evidence that the partisan affiliations, such that they exist, of local government leaders does have an influence on the types of policies and the ambitions that the city has related to climate change, but I think that the... I don't think we typically see the same kind of animosity and partisan-driven debate around climate change at the local level and I think it's because a lot of the time we're talking about an energy efficiency program or a new subway line or solar power and this kind of thing and I think... I don't imagine that it doesn't come into play at all, but I think it does look different at the local level for that reason. So even some of the climate ambition cities, they might call the plan itself a sustainability plan or a resilience plan or a community of the future plan or something like that. So I think it does play out a little bit differently in terms of the actual public debate and the public conversation, but like I said, there is some dimension where... Some element of the ideology of elected decision-makers that has also been shown to play a role too.

0:49:24.8 Sarah: I will say the other place I think to look for this or to think about it, I remember Barry bringing this up last year too, is when the city versus state kind of dynamic too. So I think that that's another place where partisan differences on climate change can play out and affect what the city does, but still kind of in a different way in an inter-governmental dynamic.

0:50:02.4 Brendan: Thanks. Yeah, thanks for that. Okay, so the next question I'm gonna read 'cause I actually had this as one of my questions as well. This is from Pam Jordan and she says, "Chris and Erick, do you have recent Canada/US public opinion data for specific regions such as the Great Lakes and the Northeast?" And I was interested in this as well.

0:50:29.2 Chris: Yes, the answer is yes. [chuckle] We do. We code our data, our responses by a number of geographic indicators including state and zip codes or postal codes depending on where you live and so you're able to do those segmentations across... And we've done a lot of that over the years. Sometimes we're limited by sample size for a particular region. So if we wanted to look, just for example, at Great Lake states or zip codes of people within a certain distance from the lakes, you might have modest samples to play with, but one of the cool things you can do is pool them over time for some longitudinal questions that we ask and so we've done that in a number of projects. I think, Erick, obviously, you've done this with the Canadian data in certain things. You wanna say anything about that? 

0:51:38.8 Erick: Yeah. So we downscale the Canadian data and you can look that up on www.uumontreal.ca/climat. Not climate, but climat in French, so climate without the E. But also there was that Great Lakes project, Chris, that you worked on with Chris Gore as well that kind of rang a bell. I don't know if that might be relevant for Pam.

0:52:08.3 Chris: Yeah. Pam, you could reach out to me and some folks here, Barry, Debra is here, folks that worked on that project. We did some polling, particularly on the Great Lakes region about the US and Canada and it might be... If you haven't seen it, we can make sure that you get your hands on that. One last thing that kind of dovetail with what Erick said, over the years, the NSE, we've stored our data and made it available through IPCSR at the University of Michigan. I think we're a couple of waves behind catching up with getting it all clean, but there's lots of it there and you could break it up. We don't have zip codes on that because of some confidentiality concerns, but you definitely have them by state.

0:53:01.4 Brendan: Okay, yeah, thanks for that. So yeah, I'll do maybe one more audience question and then I'll kind of... Also, if any questions have jumped out at the presenters from the chat, if you look in there, if there's anything that I didn't get to that you want to answer, you could also speak to that as well. But I think there's one from Ben Lefel here that I think is interesting and this is actually for all three of the speakers. So the question is, "Does public opinion matter for Urban Climate Action?" And so the context here is that Ben and co-authors found that in the US county level proportion of population that believe climate change is a threat is associated strongly with corporate facility-level GHG reductions. And so belief is also strongly associated with the adoption of climate action planning at the city level and they have a strong direct effect on GHG reductions. And so I guess this would be for everybody in terms of the statistics, but then also Sarah, in terms of your research in looking at the big cities, whether that played a role as well.

0:54:15.2 Sarah: Yeah. No, I think... Just like Ben said that we... Public opinion or all kinds of different measures, belief in climate change, partisan leanings, those kinds of measures of public opinion definitely have been consistently found to be associated with the likelihood of a city adopting a climate plan, this kind of thing. I think it gets back to what we were saying before that I think in some ways local governments are an outlet for people's desires to see action, take action on climate change. And it's also, in a lot of ways, a level that makes sense. There's things that cities can legitimately do that they need to do in order to meet some of these goals too, so that's definitely the case. I think that... It's interesting to think about where and how it matters beyond, let's say, adopting a plan or some of these emissions reductions, where it fits in. And when I think about some of the implementation challenges, a lot of times it is kind of mobilizing resources and getting the money flowing, getting a line item in the city's budget, getting the staff in place and that kind of thing, but I think that is an area where public opinion would really help a city as well.

0:55:52.4 Sarah: I can't remember if this is in there or not, but again, an example from Toronto, there was a moment when the city was considering cutting its program, its climate program, and people... I remember people showed up at City Hall and stayed until 3:00 in the morning. People really rallied and I don't imagine that was the only deciding factor, but the city did end up keeping it. So I think... It certainly matters. I think that in most policy, other things matter too, especially when it comes to getting a big chunk of money from the state or getting the eds and meds on board or this kind of thing, but I think it does play a big role.

0:56:45.2 Brendan: Eric or Christopher, did you want to add that from your perspective of your data? 

0:56:52.4 Erick: Yeah. I think... We're a bit short on time. I think it's a fascinating question. I do think that public opinion matters for Urban Climate Action, but I really think it raises some fascinating questions... The reasons why raise some fascinating questions about the quality of representation in a representative democracy and the reasons why municipalities... The reasons why it ought to matter more for municipalities I think raises some really interesting questions of representation, so I think it's a great question.

0:57:24.4 Chris: I'll just add I think it's a fascinating space that Sarah's working in right here with looking at this and obviously from the public opinion perspective, what's one frame to think about? A lot of urban municipal governments, they don't have the same benefit as national governments, it's the same for states, of deficit spending or at least there could be a few bonds and other things, but there's constraints. So as we kind of move into the space right now where they're feeling more of the effects of climate change, especially coastal cities and lots of other areas, and they have to address the problem through the frame of options, adaptation, mitigation, those types of things. I'm fascinated to see where public opinion goes. You could, of course, through an ideological lens, want to take on at a local level more mitigation policies, but does adaptation become prioritized in local urban governance right now because it's one thing you can control and you have a limited budget without those options for deficit spending to kinda do it. So there's this really cool place that Sarah's occupying right now, so good stuff.

0:58:37.4 Brendan: Yeah. I totally agree. That's really interesting. And yeah, the connection, the last question really does connect both papers and shows how they can speak to each other in some ways even though they're focused on different things and different methodology and everything. So I wanna thank our presenters for sharing their expertise and their work with us today and stimulating a really great conversation. I wanna thank everybody for attending and making this a great session and for your questions. We didn't necessarily get a chance to get to them all, but thank you for putting them out there and I've read them all and they look very interesting. And yes, also thank you to Josh and Barry and their team for organizing all of this because it's been really interesting and really valuable work and I'm interested to see where it goes in the future. So yeah. I think, Josh, is there anything else? 

0:59:33.4 Josh: I just wanted to you, Brendan, as I did in the chat, because not only did he do a great job moderating, but he's also been part of this project as a reviewer. And also of course, my thanks to Barry for without whom I would not be here either. Take care.

0:59:50.9 Brendan: Yeah. I'm happy to be part of it. So thanks everybody and have a good day.