What do Carbon Dioxide Removal technologies mean for Mitigation support?
Carbon dioxide reduction (CDR) technologies work by removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it in a variety of forms, e.g., as biomass, in deep saline aquifers, or as ultra-low emission fuels, with the ultimate goals of increasing negative emissions and achieving a net reduction in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. While there is growing interest in the use of these climate engineering technologies as part of a larger strategy to address greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, it is unknown if these measures will reduce or augment the public’s support for mitigation measures already in place, e.g., policies to promote renewable energy sources and reduce dependence on fossil fuels, industry-level emission standards, or reductions in individual and household-level energy consumption. The "risk salience" hypothesis suggests that learning about CDR, a highly uncertain and arguably drastic approach to climate change, will increase the salience and perceived risk of climate change, thereby strengthening support for traditional mitigation policies. In contrast, the "risk compensation" hypothesis argues that learning about CDR will dampen the perceived threat of climate change and thus reduce support for mitigation. This line of research uses a series of survey-based experiments to test under what conditions either of these hypotheses hold true.
*Campbell-Arvai, V., *Hart, P.S., *Raimi, K.T. & *Wolske, K.S. (2017). The influence of learning about carbon dioxide removal (CDR) on support for mitigation policies. Climatic Change, 143(3-4): 321-336. (*shared first authorship)
Public Support for Different forms of CDR
Climate models suggest that limiting climate change to 2 C may be impossible without CDR. But is the public supportive of these strategies? In a national, randomized survey experiment, we examined whether support for the three most commonly discussed forms of CDR—bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), direct air capture (DAC) and afforestation/reforestation—depends on how much each is perceived to tamper with nature. In a between-subjects design, we found that support for afforestation/reforestation was higher than either BECCS or DAC because it was perceived to tamper less with nature. These effects were more pronounced for individuals who are generally averse to tampering with nature, as measured by the Aversion to Tampering with Nature (ATN) scale. If participants were additionally given information about the risks and benefits associated with CDR, support declined for all three types of CDR. For Afforestation and BECCS, learning about those tradeoffs increased perceptions of tampering with nature, which, in turn, dampened support. For DAC, learning about tradeoffs decreased support through some other, unmeasured mechanism. Overall, our results suggest that the way CDR strategies are initially framed by policymakers or the mass media may have substantial consequences for their acceptance.
Wolske, K.S. ^Raimi, K.T., ^Campbell-Arvai, V., & ^Hart, P.S. (2019). Public support for carbon dioxide removal strategies: The role of tampering with nature perceptions. Climatic Change, 152(3-4): 345-361. (^shared second authorship)
Raimi, K.T., ^Wolske, K.S., ^Campbell-Arvai, V., ^Hart, P. Sol. (2020). The Aversion to Tampering with Nature (ATN) Scale: Individual Differences in (Dis)comfort with Altering the Natural World. Risk Analysis. (^shared second authorship) https://doi.org/10.1111/risa.13414
Collaborators (alphabetical order)
Victoria Campbell-Arvai (University of Michigan)
P. Sol Hart (University of Michigan)
Kaitlin T. Raimi (University of Michigan)
University of Michigan Energy Institute, Beyond Carbon Neutral initiative