Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 4:10pm to 5:45pm
Solarium (room FA2) Falconer Hall - 84 Queen's Park


Cherie Metcalf
Queen’s University Faculty of Law 

Institutions & Information: Public Perception of Climate Change Information
Provided by Government vs. the Market
(co-authored with Jonathan Nash, Emory University) 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017
4:10 – 5.45
Solarium (room FA2) - Falconer Hall
84 Queen's Park

One of the challenges associated with formulating effective climate policy is the gap between the consensus views of climate scientists and public opinion. While climate scientists are increasingly certain that climate change is occurring and attributable to human activity, significant portions of the public remain skeptical. Research has identified a strong divide between conservatives and liberals on climate change beliefs.  

Climate science prediction markets have been proposed as a way to enhance public uptake of climate risk information and bridge the conservative – liberal divide. Market information may be more accessible to conservatives, as market institutions and private information generation are more congruent with their values. In theory, the use of markets might make accurate climate science information accessible to a broader cross section of the public, enhancing the development of climate change mitigation and adaptation policy. 

This paper generates empirical evidence to test the hypothesized links between institutional source and the perceived accuracy and trustworthiness of climate science information. The paper generates relevant data through the use of experimental surveys administered via online participation. The surveys have a 2x2 randomized design, incorporating experimental conditions on the nature of the climate risk communicated and the institution generating the prediction. The institutional source experimental condition ascribes the information to either a government endorsed source (IPCC) or a market source (market for climate risk options). The paper investigates how the institutional source influences the perceived accuracy of the climate risk information, individuals trustworthiness in the source of the information, and the persuasiveness of the new information in altering individuals pre-existing beliefs about the existence and human attribution of climate change. We use equivalence of means and ordered logit regression to assess the impact of our key variables of interest (institutional source condition, individuals' political views). Results indicate robust statistically significant effects of the institutional source condition on perceived accuracy, trustworthiness and the persuasiveness of climate risk information. However, in contrast to the theory, the use of the market condition is associated with reduced perceptions of accuracy and lower institutional trust among conservatives. In contrast, while the market condition is associated with no significant change in the persuasiveness of climate risk information for conservatives, it appears to have a negative impact on the prior climate beliefs of liberals. 

Cherie Metcalf is Associate Professor and Associate Dean (Academic) at Queen’s Law. She completed a Ph.D (Economics) at UBC, an LL.B. at Queen’s and LL.M. at Yale Law prior to her appointment. Her major research themes relate to environmental and resource management, particularly in relation to indigenous peoples’ rights and the constitutional recognition of property rights. Some representative publications include: “The (Ir)Relevance of Constitutional Property Rights: Compensation for Takings in Canada and the US” (2015) 65(3)  UTLJ 143; “Property Law Culture: Public Law, Private Preferences & the Psychology of Expropriation” (2014) 39 Queen’s Law Journal 685; “Climate Law in Canada: International Law’s Role under Environmental Federalism” (2014) 67 UNB Law Journal 86 (invited contribution); “Property Rights, Resource Access & Long Run Growth” (with I. Keay) (2011) 8 Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 792.

For more workshop information, please contact Nadia Gulezko at n.gulezko@utoronto.ca.