Experiences of Climate Extremes likely to Lean European Voters towards Green Parties

02/07/2022 - Awareness of and concern for environmental issues has risen across Europe in the past two decades, and so has the willingness to vote for green parties. A new study has looked into this correlation, collecting subnational election data for a large number of countries and combining it with environmental data.
Experiences of Climate Extremes likely to Lean European Voters towards Green Parties
Simplified conceptual model of the links between climate change experiences, environmental concerns, and Green voting.

“We found a significant and sizeable effect of temperature anomalies, heat episodes, and dry spells on environmental concern and Green voting. Interestingly, the effects were most pronounced in regions with a moderate and colder climate, and weaker in regions with a hotter, Mediterranean climate,” explains scientist Roman Hoffmann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who is also a researcher in the Migration and Sustainable Development Research Group of the IIASA Population and Just Societies Program.

Trends in green voting are erratic over time. Still, the observed increase was particularly pronounced in Northern and Western Europe and weaker in Eastern and Southern Europe, according to the study published in Nature Climate Change. The statistical analysis shows that the rise in concerns and voting for Green parties can partly be ascribed to the more frequent and intense experiences with climate extremes. The impacts of climate extremes were, however, not uniform but differed from region to region.

In their paper, the researchers analyzed the effect of people’s increased experiences with climate extremes on environmental concern and explored to what extent changes in concerns translate into actual political support for climate action in the form of Green voting. To this end, the team used time-series from Eurobarometer data from 2002 thorugh 2019, and European Parliament election data and combined this data with climatological data.

According to the researchers, other factors related to the socioeconomic, cultural, and political conditions in a region can also play a role in explaining the observed differences between regions. In particular, the study found that economic conditions moderate the climate impacts on concerns and voting, suggesting that while climate change experiences increase public support for climate action, it only does so under favorable economic conditions.

The study’s findings are particularly relevant for current debates on how to best promote and effectively implement further climate change mitigation measures in line with the Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal, where the EU aims to take a leading position in tackling climate change.


Roman Hoffmann, Raya Muttarak, Jonas Peisker, Piero Stanig (2022): Climate change experiences raise environmental concerns and promote Green voting. Nature Climate Change [DOI:10.1038/s41558-021-01263-8].


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