Green Policies With Incentives More Popular, Research Shows

Medscape Staff

November 17, 2021

Climate policies that focus on rewards rather than penalties may gain more support from the general public, though the social impact of the policies may be even more important.

What to know:

  • Three online surveys evaluated 444 US residents for their opinions on several hypothetical climate policies. Participants indicated their level of support for each policy and answered questions on how they thought the policies would affect the environment, the economy, and society.

  • The results, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology and Environmental Science and Policy, indicate that most people prefer policies that use incentives, such as tax breaks and rebates, to those that use disincentives, such as taxing high energy-users.

  • The preference was less pronounced when the penalties targeted businesses rather than individuals.

  • The study also showed that people prefer policies that aim to develop alternative energy sources to those that aim to reduce energy use and that most people place a greater weight on a policy's potential social effects, such as whether it will improve people's health, than on its economic effects.

  • The results could help inform legislators in creating policies that are likely to gain support and address public concerns.

This is a summary of the article, "The Public Prefers Climate Carrots to Climate Sticks," published by Anthropocene Magazine on November 16. The full article can be found on

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