OECD Climate Change

International Attitudes toward Climate Policies


Policies to address climate change have been historically difficult to implement.

The OECD and The Social Economics Lab at Harvard teamed up to understand why, and surveyed over 40 000 respondents across 20 of the world’s most carbon-emitting countries (representing 72% of global CO2 emissions).

By addressing citizen's concerns, governments can help build public support for urgently needed climate action.


How can governments bring citizens on board?


While there is broad agreement across countries that climate change is an important problem, there is limited willingness to adopt behavioural emissions with current policies, in particular to: 

  • limit driving

  • limit heating and cooling your home

  • limit beef consumption.

Three things governments can do:

1. Encourage green behaviour through infrastructure investments and subsidies

Green alternatives to polluting technologies need to be made widely available via public infrastructure (e.g. public transport) and subsidies for adoption (heat pumps, electric vehicles) targeted at exposed households.

Many people already support policies like: 

  • mandatory and subsidised insulation of buildings

  • green infrastructure programmes and subsidies to low-carbon technologies.

Making public transport widely available increases support for bans of combustion engine cars by about 10% on average across all countries.




Opposition to climate policies is in fact correlated with “carbon dependence”: lack of public transport, car usage and (to a lesser extent) gasoline expenditure.

Higher levels of education and having children are correlated with higher support, across countries. But overall, socio-economic factors are less important in predicting policy support compared to “carbon dependence”.




2. Use revenue from green taxes to offset low-income household burden

The perception that a climate policy may be regressive explains much of the lack of support. This is particularly true for energy taxation and carbon pricing.

Since support for carbon taxes strongly depends on revenue use, carbon pricing can receive strong support from citizens if:

  • revenues are used to fund green infrastructure and low-carbon technologies

  • revenues are redistributed to households with lower incomes or households strongly affected by the carbon tax (for example in rural areas), via lower income taxes or cash transfers.


3. Inform citizens about how climate policies work and who they affect


A key finding of this report is that communicating information to the public on how climate policies work increases policy support, especially for policies for which support is low – such as carbon taxes.

Information campaigns should explain: 

  • How do climate policies reduce emissions?

  • What are the individual costs of the climate policy?

  • Who will gain and who will lose from the climate policy?


Access the responses


Data insights by country


Australia Australia   Brazil Brazil  Canada Canada China China 
Denmark Denmark  France France (version française)* Germany Germany India India 
Indonesia Indonesia  Italy Italy  Japan Japan  Mexico Mexico 
Poland Poland  South-Africa South Africa  South-Korea Korea Spain Spain 
Turkey Türkiye  Ukraine Ukraine United-Kingdom United Kingdom  United-States United States 

 *La note française a été élaborée en collaboration avec le Conseil d'analyse économique