Poster Paper: Public Perception Towards Various Policy Instruments Under Technology Uncertainties -- Learning from Smog Control Policies in China

Friday, November 4, 2016
Columbia Ballroom (Washington Hilton)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Lingyi Zhou1, Yixin Dai1, Yangyang Xie2,3, Lina Gu1 and Ming Wang1, (1)Tsinghua University, (2)Beijing Key Laboratory of Indoor Air Quality Evaluation and Control, (3)Department of Building Science, School of Architecture

China encounters significant environmental challenges along with its fast economic development. Whereas governments at various levels promulgate a wide array of laws and regulations aiming at environmental protection, implementation gap has been persistently reported in academic research and in practice. On top of it, technology uncertainties make the situation even more complicated: when it is hard to clarify scientific reasons or solutions to certain environment issues, such as climate change and smog control, the general public may generate various perceptions among different policy tools, which may lead to extra implementation obstacles. Less has been discussed that how well do people know about these environmental challenges and to what extend these knowledge uncertainties might influence public perception formation along with other tested factors such as personal risk perception, trust to the government and demographic features.

This research studies public perception towards smog control policy in China. As inhalable particles become the principal pollution source in many areas, local governments design various traffic control policies. For example, Beijing started license plate-based driving bans to all vehicles from 2014, while Shanghai adopts a combination of license plate auction and rush hour bans to non-local cars. City like Guangzhou is still under the process of making policy of license plate ban. Answers to questions such as: what are the public perception levels towards different type of policy tools? what are essential factors that influence public perception formation? And does knowledge uncertainty play any role in perception formation in different localities? would public perception shed great lights on policy implementation, especially considering the limited level of public opinion absorption through formal policy making institution.

Based on literature review, we tested public perception towards different traffic ban policies from four dimensions: perceived risk of smog, knowledge of smog formation, perception of benefits, and trust in government agencies. Individual characteristic variables such as age, education, gender are treated as control variables. We randomly sampled 200 residents in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou respectively. The preliminary of 166 valid questionnaires in Beijing shows that risk perception, benefits, trust in government and knowledge all significantly affect the public's support for traffic ban policy. The higher the public’s risk perception and trust in government, the higher the public’s support for the policy. The public’s knowledge about causes and hazards of smog is positively related with the public’s support significantly. And perception of benefits has a negative correlation with the public’s support. For personal characteristic variables, women’s support for policy is significantly higher than men, and education level shows an inverted "U" type.

We are expecting to reveal various public perception models towards different traffic ban policies in Shanghai and Guangzhou via further analysis and to explore policy implications of policy instrument selection for these cities.