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CSSN Scholar Publications

Limited impacts of carbon tax rebate programmes on public support for carbon pricing

February 10, 2022

Research conducted by CSSN Scholar Matto Mildenberger evaluates rebate programs in Canada and Switzerland, finding they may have limited effects on public support of carbon taxes.


Revenue recycling through lump-sum dividends may help mitigate public opposition to carbon taxes, yet evidence from real-world policies is lacking. Here we use survey data from Canada and Switzerland, the only countries with climate rebate programmes, to show low public awareness and substantial underestimation of climate rebate amounts in both countries. Information was obtained using a five-wave panel survey that tracked public attitudes before, during and after implementation of Canada’s 2019 carbon tax and dividend policy and a large-scale survey of Swiss residents. Experimental provision of individualized information about true rebate amounts had modest impacts on public support in Switzerland but potentially deleterious effects on support in Canada, especially among Conservative voters. In both countries, we find that perceptions of climate rebates are structured less by informed assessments of economic interest than by partisan identities. These results suggest limited effects of existing rebate programmes, to date, in reshaping the politics of carbon taxation.

Image Credit: Unsplash/ Marcin Jozwiak