The influence of learning about carbon dioxide removal
(CDR) on support for mitigation policies
P. Sol Hart
Kaitlin T. Raimi
Kimberly S. Wolske
Received: 25 September 2016 /Accepted: 4 June 2017 /Published online: 28 July 2017
Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017
Abstract A wide range of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) strategies has been proposed to
address climate change. As most CDR strategies are unfamiliar to the public, it is unknown
how increased media and policy attention on CDR might affect public sentiment about climate
change. On the one hand, CDR poses a potential moral hazard: if people perceive that CDR
solves climate change, they may be less likely to support efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
On the other hand, the need for CDR may increase the perceived severity of climate change
and, thus, increase support for other types of mitigation. Using an online survey of US adults
(N = 984), we tested these competing hypotheses by exposing participants to information
about different forms of CDR. We find that learning about certain CDR strategies indirectly
reduces support for mitigation policies by reducing the perceived threat of climate change.
This was found to be true for participants who read about CDR in general (without mention of
specific strategies), bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or direct air capture. Further-
more, this risk compensation pattern was more pronounced among political conservatives than
liberals—although in some cases, was partially offset by positive direct effects. Learning about
Climatic Change (2017) 143:321–336
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10584-017-2005-1)
contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
* Victoria Campbell-Arvai
School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, 440 Church St., Ann Arbor,
MI 48109-1041, USA
Communication Studies | Program in the Environment, University of Michigan, 5417 NQ, 105 S.
State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1285, USA
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan, 735 S. State St., Ann Arbor, MI
Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, 701
Tappan Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1234, USA
Present address: Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago, 1155 E 60th St, Chicago, IL