What Explains Ambitious Climate Policy? Comparing Updated Climate Targets and Covid-19 Recovery Packages and Their Drivers

Which political and economic drivers can explain country differences in climate ambition between NDCs and recovery packages, and how correlated they are?

Project Summary

For climate change mitigation, the beginning of the 2020s represents a crucial moment. National climate targets, or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), are updated for the first time. Simultaneously, countries introduce vast COVID-19 economic recovery packages to entrench or upset the current carbon-intensive economic system.

This project on the coincidence of these developments offers two novel insights. First, it will help us empirically understand the climate ambition of both NDC updates and COVID-19 recovery packages, as well as their coherence. Second, it will uncover the political and economic drivers underlying differences in climate ambition across countries.

This study will try to respond to two questions:

  • How ambitious are countries’ updated NDCs and COVID-19 recovery packages, and to what degree do they correlate?
  • Which political and economic drivers can explain country differences in climate ambition of NDCs and recovery packages?

 

This study will integrate political science and economics, focusing on the role of policy feedback and financing conditions in driving climate ambition. It will also combine descriptive statistical analyses with qualitative comparative case studies in three analytical tasks in a mixed-methods research design.

First, it will leverage novel NDC and COVID-19 recovery data to sort countries into a typology based on the level of ambition between the two packages.  It will classify them into four categories: symbolic climate leaders, substantive leaders, laggards, and crisis opportunists. It will then examine drivers of variation across these countries, focusing on policy feedback from national green coalitions. Finally, it will analyze the role of international financial institutions (IFI) as a moderating factor in shaping the climate ambition of NDCs and COVID-19 recovery packages.

Beyond academic insights, this project will deliver policy recommendations for national policymakers and IFIs on how to increase climate ambition.

Research Team

Tobias S. Schmidt
Coordinator
ETH Zurich

Anna Stünzi
Co-Coordinator
University of St-Gallen

Nicolas Schmid
Principal Member
ETH Zurich

 

Florian Egli
Principal Member
ETH Zurich

Jonas Meckling 
Principal Member
UC Berkeley

Taryn Fransen 
Principal Member
UC Berkeley

Ivetta Gerasimchuk 
Principal Member
International Institute for Sustainable Development

Chris Beaton
Principal Member
International Institute for Sustainable Development

Status

ongoing

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Regions

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Coordinator

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