01 Mar @14:00

The Environmental Dimension of Public Support for Domestic Water Charges

Speaker(s): John Kenny

Date: 14:00 on Thu, 01 Mar 2018

Seminar Series: GRS

Lecture Theatre, Manor Road Building,Manor Road, Oxford, OX1 3UQ

The 2011 Irish general election took place in the midst of an economic crisis and in the aftermath of the country entering into an EU-IMF bailout programme. A key area of contention during the campaign was whether domestic water charges – which had been abolished in 1996 – should be reintroduced. While a large amount of the debate focused on the proposal as an austerity measure in light of economic conditions, the proposal also had environmental implications. Using data from the 2011 Irish National Election Study, this paper thus tests whether during these harsh economic conditions individuals that express a willingness to prioritise environmental policy or to make personal sacrifices to protect the environment actually are when faced with a tangible proposal that is environmentally beneficial. It finds that while individuals’ willingness to prioritise environmental protection over economic growth at the policy level did not affect their support for water charges, their willingness to make individual sacrifices for the environment did. Moreover, there is evidence of representational strain as individuals who were more willing to pay higher taxes for the environment and supported anti-water charges parties with environmental credentials were more likely to support the reintroduction of water charges against the policy position of their party.