Public support for aviation policy measures in Sweden
Journal article, 2020
Air travel has received increasing attention in the climate debate in recent years. Current climate policy in this sector remains weak in comparison to, for example, the road transport sector. In this study, we analyze public support for seven different national policy measures that have been chosen to reflect the main thinking raised in the debate. Using original data from Sweden (N = 4500), we found that less coercive measures, as well as regulatory measures targeting the aviation industry rather than individuals directly, are more readily supported by the public than market-based policies aiming to push individuals away from air travel. The analyses of the different policy measures reveal many similarities between them. Climate concern, a personal norm to act in a more climate-friendly way, a political orientation to the left and high levels of institutional trust all display strong associations with support for all the different policy types. Perceptions of fairness, in particular, and effectiveness were strongly associated with overall policy support. Interestingly, however, the extent to which a policy measure was expected to affect one’s own personal freedom was found to have a very weak correlation with policy support. Key policy insights Public support was higher for ‘pull’ policies (climate labelling and subsidies for high-speed and night trains), as well as for regulatory measures targeting the aviation industry (biofuel blending mandate), than for policies that aim to push individuals away from air travel (e.g. air passenger tax). The weakest public support was found for frequent flyer taxation and personal carbon allowances. One reason, however, may be that these are novel policy options where the respondents had little prior information. In line with previous research, climate concern, ideology and trust in institutions correlate with attitudes to aviation polices, but the multivariate model showed that perceptions of whether a policy is fair and effective were by far the most important variables. Hence, fairness and effectiveness appear to be crucial aspects for the design of new policies.