P. Sol Hart, Victoria Campbell-Arvai, Kimberly S. Wolske, Kaitlin T. Raimid
Geoengineering technologies are increasingly proposed as a necessary strategy to address climate change. How does the prospect of these technologies affect public support for traditional mitigation strategies that involve emission reductions? Recent research yields mixed results. Some evidence points to a moral hazard or risk compensation effect (i.e., less support for climate change mitigation). Other research finds evidence of heightened risk salience (i.e., more support for climate change mitigation), and still other work finds no effect at all. Focusing on carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies, we investigate whether these inconsistent findings result from differences in how the technologies are described against the backdrop of climate change. Specifically, we examine whether including explicit information (or not) about the impacts of climate change alters how information about CDR is received. Building on previous work, we designed two experiments to elucidate the circumstances under which information about CDR elicits a risk compensatory, risk salience, or null response among the public. Results predominantly align with a null effect from CDR information, although mixed results in Study 1 suggest the possibility of a very small risk compensation effect, depending on whether political ideology is controlled for. There was no evidence of a risk salience effect. However, information about the impacts of climate change increased perceived threat and, indirectly, policy support. We, thus, recommend that future studies of risk compensation and risk salience effects account for the provision of climate impacts information and political ideology.