Study: Fewer greenhouse emissions for states with more environmental activism

Thomas Dietz is a professor of Sociology and Environmental Science and Policy (ESPP) and assistant vice president for environmental research at Michigan State University. Dietz teamed up with MSU Foundation professor of sociometrics Kenneth Frank on the study. (Photo by Kurt Stepnitz)

Nick Fetty | June 19, 2015

A new study shows that states with the highest rates of environmentalism saw lower rates of greenhouse gas emissions.

The researchers from Michigan State University examined greenhouse gas emissions from all 50 states dating back to 1990 and analyzed how emissions correlated with population, gross state product per capita, employment rate and environmentalism. Environmentalism was calculated using “the environmental voting record of a state’s congressional delegation, as rated by the League of Conservation Voters.” The report concludes that a one percent increase in environmentalism can reduce emissions by more than enough to compensate for the typical annual increase in emissions.

“We’ve used new methods developed over the years and new innovations Ken has developed to add in the politics – and find that politics and environmentalism can mediate some environmental impact,” study co-author Thomas Dietz said in a statement. “Environmentalism seems to influence policies and how well policies that are in place are actually implemented, and it also influences individual behavior and the choices people make.”

Vermont had the greenest voting record and ranked 2nd nationally (behind for Rhode Island) for fewest emissions while states line Texas, Wyoming, and Louisiana had the least green voting records highest rates of emissions.

The study – “Political influences on greenhouse gas emissions from US states” – was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Support for this research was provided by MSU’s AgBioResearch.


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