Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 255–269 | Cite as

Carbon emissions and climate policy support by local governments in California: a qualitative comparative analysis at the county level

  • Robert HabansEmail author
  • Matthew Thomas Clement
  • Andrew Pattison
Research Article


Drawing from the existing social science literature, we examine the relationship between fossil fuel use and the adoption of policy to address climate change at the local level. In our analysis, we incorporate direct measures of fossil fuel use in a manner that allows us to distinguish carbon emissions from consumption-based and production-based activities. Focusing on the 36 most populous and urbanized counties within the state of California, we merge these emissions, along with other political and economic measures, with an indicator of extensive policy support derived from climate agreement signatories. We then use fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) to examine conditions that are sufficient for broad adoption of climate policy within a given county. Based on the results, we frame consumption-based and production-based emissions as distinctive in the way that their relationship with climate policy adoption depends on other favorable political and economic conditions. In particular, we identify several routes to extensive adoption for counties that have a combination of low emissions and a favorable political environment. In the conclusion, we discuss the QCA findings and elaborate on the theoretical and practical implications for efforts to understand and to promote carbon reduction efforts at the local level.


Local climate change policy Policy adoption Carbon emissions and affluence Qualitative comparative analysis Fuzzy-set Direct measures of carbon emissions Production and consumption carbon emissions Civic capacity and emissions 



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Copyright information

© AESS 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignIllinoisUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyTexas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA
  3. 3.Department of Environmental StudiesColgate UniversityHamiltonUSA

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