As the climate crisis worsens, it becomes increasingly important to understand how voters respond to first-hand experience of natural disasters. Conventional wisdom holds that exposure to natural disasters fosters environmental concern, thereby increasing support for green parties and candidates. Looking at the impact of wildfires on voting behavior in Brazil, we argue instead that exposure to natural disasters increases support for green candidates only when the costs of disasters outweigh their benefits. While fires have unambiguously negative environmental and health effects, their economic implications are not necessarily negative. In areas where fires destroy natural vegetation, newly ``cleared'' land may represent an opportunity for land grabbing and the expansion of agricultural and livestock production. We source satellite, administrative, and electoral data from Brazil and use it in two different identification strategies. Our results show that exposure to fires increases support for the main green candidate only in municipalities with low shares of employment in sectors that are likely to benefit from the degradation of the natural environment. Our findings shed light on the distributional implications of environmental degradation and their political consequences.
Exploring Demand-side Mitigation: Dietary Changes and Climate Mitigation Scenarios
with Elina Brutschin and Valentina Bosetti
Dietary changes, and in particular partially substituting meat with plant-based alternatives, can significantly contribute to climate mitigation efforts if diffused at large scale. This mitigation option has been however under-represented in long-term climate mitigation scenarios. In this paper, we explore the demographic, social, cultural, and economic drivers that have influenced meat demand and dietary changes historically and explore future projections based on this analysis. We show that besides economic drivers like economic development and meat prices, historical meat consumption is substantially predicted by factors like age distribution, urbanization, education, gender equality, and religious affiliation. We then compare meat consumption projections based on this full set of predictors with livestock consumption trends in climate mitigation scenarios produced by Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs), showing that this mitigation lever is significantly underexplored in scenario analysis. This paper contributes to shedding light on the feasibility of changes in the food system that can contribute to reaching ambitious climate mitigation goals and provides an example on how to build empirically grounded IAM scenario assumptions.
Work in Progress
From Cheap Talk to Action: How Political Elites Respond to Environmental Demands, with António Valentim
Extreme Weather Events and Environmental Policy: Which Local Governments Increase Public Spending on the Environment? with Matteo Muntoni