||For decades climate change has been a key issue that concerns many people, as it can impact the economy and, to some extent, endanger human lives. Articles about climate change policies have been plentiful, but some aspects of the state-level policy analysis are still sparse because most policies have only been proposed within the past decade. The primary research goal of this dissertation, comprised of three essays, is to analyze state-level climate policies which have been less discussed and to provide better understanding of climate change policy analyses.
The first essay identifies the influence of complex temperature patterns on public support for government involvement in a regional agricultural sector’s adaptation to climate change. This essay takes advantage of an unexpected warm spell that occurred during the period of the public support survey. A set of identification strategies are developed to identify the complex effects of temperature abnormality, resulting from temporal patterns as well as the interdependence of these patterns and other attributes of the abnormality. This study finds that, contrary to popular belief and most existing findings, when the general public experiences a more pronounced temperature abnormality, public support for the climate change adaptation policies does not increase and may even decrease. Our results provide better understandings of how temperature affects public opinions as well as an alternative explanation of the inconsistency between the fluctuating attitudes toward climate change and the growing body of scientific evidence.
The second essay measures the local acceptance of a biorefinery. The siting and operation of a biorefinery can have both positive and negative externalities for the host community. Given the externalities, local acceptability is a key factor affecting biorefinery location decisions and the likely success of this type of mitigation investment. Numerous articles discuss the economic impact of biofuels, but there is little systematic analysis of local acceptability of biofuel production facilities. Essay 2 explores factors that influence community attitudes toward biofuel facilities. It also assesses the strength of local acceptability or opposition by estimating the local community’s willingness to pay (WTP) either to support or to oppose a proposed biorefinery. Essay 2 verifies the potential inconsistency between public support and net social welfare change and finds that, conditional on the respondents’ baseline attitudes toward the biorefinery, the WTPs provide a more comprehensive picture of local acceptability. County level socio-economic characteristics are found to significantly influence the respondents’ attitudes as well as the WTPs.
The third essay improves on a modeling method for the estimation of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from a local food policy, as buying foods locally may reduce food-miles and the associated transportation green gas emissions. This essay shows how the existing extended input-output lifecycle analysis (EIO-LCA) method used to estimate the transportation greenhouse gas emissions of the food systems may lead to biased results. We develop a modified EIO-LCA model that corrects this problem. This essay illustrates the approach and demonstrates to what extent the results might be biased if these issues are not corrected. As the biases can be large, this finding and the modified method are meaningful and informative for local food policy makers and researchers who wish to assess the impact of local foods on greenhouse gas emissions.