Public acceptability of policy instruments for reducing fossil fuelconsumption in East Africa

Peer Reviewed
17 January 2024

Niklas Harring, Michael Ndwiga, Anna Nordén, Daniel Slunge

In recent decades, there has been increasing research interest in individuals' support of and resistance to climate and environmental policy instruments. However, there is an empirical bias in the literature, as few studies have been conducted in low-income countries. Based on a survey with 4,766 respondents we identify the level of public acceptability for climate policy instruments and their determinants in East Africa(Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda). 

While our sample is not fully representative of the East African population,  we capture highly educated individuals in urban areas, who are likely to have a large influence on policy processes. In line with previous studies in other contexts, we find that higher education and climate change concerns are linked to the acceptability of policies aimed at reducing fossil fuel consumption. Specifying how the revenue from a climate tax or subsidy removal would be used, almost doubled the support for these policy instruments. In contrast to earlier studies, we find that investments in social programs, not environmental programs, was the revenue specification that increased the acceptability the most. One possible explanation would be that in a context where poverty is more prevalent, social issues are more salient to people. We also find weak associations between trust in government and the acceptability of climate policy instruments in East Africa and large heterogeneity across the five focal East African countries. Besides establishing an empirical foundation for future research on climate policy support in East Africa, the study provides essential policy insights: Investing in education and improved information, contributing to increased awareness and understanding of climate concerns, can potentially increase support for climate policy proposals also in the East African context. Earmarking revenues from climate policy instruments for social programs may also significantly boost support. However, as our study is not fully representative of the population in the five countries and relies on stated preferences, which may be subject to different biases, the results should be interpreted with caution.

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Publication reference
Harring, N., Ndwiga, M., Nordén, A., & Slunge, D. (2024). Public acceptability of policy instruments for reducing fossil fuel consumption in East Africa. Climate Policy, 1–16.
Publication | 20 January 2024