Frieder Mitsch, Andrew McNeil
London School of Economics and Political Science,
(Working Paper 81)
A clean environment is a public good, with the benefits shared by all. While most individuals can agree on the need to implement green policies, we argue that the cost-benefit calculation is quite different depending on where one lives. Those individuals living in places where green infrastructure is infeasible, such as cities, can advocate for green technologies knowing that the chance of having to bear the cost of infrastructure in their ‘backyard’ is low. We test how the building of wind turbines and solar farms changes one’s political preferences in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. We use a difference-indifference design based on whether one’s area is designated for potential infrastructure in the future. We show that when the burden of ‘green’ infrastructure falls on voters, wind turbines or solar farms in one’s ‘backyard’, these local authorities vote less for the Green Party. Additionally, using individual level data from SOEP, we find that it is those individuals who previously voted Green who are the most likely to desert their party in the face of green infrastructure, rather than disincentivising potential ‘switchers’. We argue that this has profound implications for the move to ‘net zero’. Green parties face a Catch22 situation, the very policies that draw their support create a backlash when implemented.