Concerned and willing to pay? Comparing policymaker and citizen attitudes towards climate change

Public opinion about climate change is well documented, but policymaker attitudes are less known. To examine the foundations for policymaking, we analyze congruence in policymaker-citizen attitudes concerning climate change. We use surveys conducted among the Finnish policymaking elite (n = 675) and a representative sample of the Finnish voting-age population (n = 1,701) in 2018–19, which included identical items of climate change concern and willingness to reduce personal living standards to curb climate change. Policymakers demonstrate much more concern for climate change and willingness to pay, suggesting a significant attitudinal disconnect between policymakers and citizens. The incongruence remains when taking personal income into account. In terms of party support, policymaker opinion aligns with opinions of voters of the green party in Finland. We speculate as to whether the observed opinion incongruence could restrict policymakers’ possibilities to make climate-friendly policies and whether climate-skeptic populist parties could use it for political gain.

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