Climate change and the legitimacy challenge. An empirical investigation into the threat of climate change to perceived democratic legitimacy and potential procedural solutions.
Climate change poses a challenge for democratic governance: On the one hand, it is essential to get citizens on board with transformative policy decisions to deal with climate change. On the other hand, citizens might start to question the legitimacy of democratic institutions and demand new types of governance if they feel that existing institutions cannot adequately protect them from the consequences of climate change. This presents a challenge to perceived democratic legitimacy.
In this project, I connect literatures on environmental political theory, environmental psychology and democratic innovation to first study this legitimacy challenge posed by climate change and second, to investigate the potential of procedural reform to strengthen the perceived legitimacy of climate policy and democratic institutions. Especially two types of procedural reform are investigated: participatory processes that involve citizens (for instance through climate assemblies) and expert-based processes (for instance expert commissions). Using a survey (WP1) and a survey experiment (WP2) I will study how the threat of climate change affects the perceived legitimacy of climate policies and democratic institutions and (anti)democratic preferences of citizens. Further, I will test whether procedural reforms can address these perceived legitimacy deficits using a survey experiment (WP3) and an in-depth study of a real life example of a participatory process: a global climate assembly (WP4).