Erick Lachapelle

Université de Montréal
Science politique

Université de Montréal, département de science politique
C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-ville
Montréal, Québec
H3C 3J7

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I study comparative environmental and energy policy at the federal and sub-federal levels, with a focus on North American jurisdictions in a comparative international context. My work is primarily geared toward explaining why certain jurisdictions adopt the energy and environmental policies they do, with a view to garnering a better understanding of how interests and preferences interact with the institutional context in which they are embedded. These questions lead me to examine such factors as public opinion and values, partisan ideologies, belief structures and expertise, and the geographic distribution of energy resources in interaction with electoral rules, boundaries, and federalism in the formulation and implementation of public policy. I am currently working on 4 main projects; 1) The Comparative Politics of Carbon Pricing; 2) Climate Federalism in Canada and the U.S.; 3) Public Opinion on Climate Change and Climate Policy; and, 4) The Politics of Scientific Expertise in Environmental Policy.

Houle, David, Erick Lachapelle and Mark Purdon. 2015. “The Comparative Politics of Sub-Federal Cap-and-Trade: Implementing the Western Climate Initiative” Global Environmental Politics 15 (3):49-73.
Abstract: Why have only two of the eleven original members of the Western Climate Initiative implemented a cap-and-trade system? This article compares the implementation of cap-and-trade in California and Quebec versus in New Mexico and British Columbia. Ideas around the reality of anthropogenic global warming and the legitimacy of cap- and-trade created favorable context in three jurisdictions, although institutions condition the expression of these ideas in the policy-making process. Since parliamentary insti- tutions concentrate power, elite consensus is more important in Canada, while in the United States public opinion plays a more significant role. However, ideational factors shaped by political institutions do not explain differences in cap-and-trade implementa- tion. Growth in shale gas production, welcomed in British Columbia and New Mexico but resisted by Quebec and marginal in California, further explain different outcomes. Ideas, mediated by institutions, are the necessary prerequisites for action, while material factors influence policy instrument choice.
DOI: 10.1162/GLEP_a_00311
Montpetit, Éric and Erick Lachapelle. 2015. “Can Policy Actors Learn from Academic Scientists?” Environmental Politics 24 (5):661-680.
Abstract: Results from an embedded survey experiment administered to practitioners who advise landowners on decontamination practices are analyzed. These professionals play a key role in the area of soil decontamination, an issue that science has made particularly tractable and which calls for new tech- nologies and policy approaches. Powerful interests, however, work against the rapid deployment of these new technologies and approaches. Our survey experiment, designed to overcome major difficulties in the study of policy learning, shows that exposure to new scientific knowledge can positively influence the attitude of practitioners to new technologies, independently of other confounding forces. This finding suggests that learning from science provides a potential pathway toward increased use of environmentally ben- eficial soil decontamination methods. The results contribute to research on the politics of environmental protection, as well the literature on policy learning.
DOI: 10.1080/09644016.2015.1027058
Lachapelle, Erick, Eric Montpetit and Jean-Philippe Gauvin. 2014. “Public Perceptions of Expert Credibility on Policy Issues: The Role of Expert Framing and Political Worldviews” Policy Studies Journal 42 (4):674-697.
Abstract: How do individuals assess the credibility of experts in various policy domains? Under what conditions does the public interpret particular scientific knowledge claims as being trustworthy and credible? Using data collected from an online survey experiment, administered to 1,507 adult residents of Quebec, this paper seeks answers to these questions. Specifically, we examine variation in the way members of the public perceive the credibility of scientific experts in the areas of climate change, shale gas extraction, cell phones, and wind farms. Our results contribute to the existing literatures on public perceptions of policy experts, framing, and cultural theory. We find that individuals evaluate expert credibility based on the way in which experts frame issues, and on the congruity/dissonance between these expert communication frames and one’s underlying worldview. However, we also identify limits to these framing effects. Our findings shed light on the interaction of framing and political worldviews in shaping public perceptions of expert credibility in various policymaking contexts.
DOI: 10.1111/psj.12073
Lachapelle, Erick, Christopher P. Borick and Barry Rabe. 2012. "Public Attitudes Toward Climate Science and Climate Policy in Federal Systems: Canada and the United States Compared." Review of Policy Research 29 (3):334-57.
Abstract: Multilevel governance poses several challenges for the politics of climate change. On the one hand, the unequal distribution of power and interests can serve as a barrier to implementing coherent policy at a federal level. On the other, these features also enable policy leadership among sub-federal units. In the context of wide variation in climate policy at both national and sub-federal levels in Canada and in the United States, this paper utilizes an original data set to examine public attitudes and perceptions toward climate science and climate change policy in two federal systems. Drawing on national and provincial/state level data from telephone surveys administered in the United States and in Canada, the paper provides insight into where the public stands on the climate change issue in two of the most carbon-intensive federal systems in the world. The paper includes the first directly comparable public opinion data on how Canadians and Americans form their opinions regarding climate matters and provides insight into the preferences of these two populations regarding climate policies at both the national and sub-federal levels. Key findings are examined in the context of growing policy experiments at the sub-federal level in both countries and limited national level progress in the adoption of climate change legislation.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1541-1338.2012.00563.x
Gravelle, Timothy B. and Erick Lachapelle. 2015. “Politics, Proximity and the Pipeline: Mapping Public Attitudes toward Keystone XL” Energy Policy 83: 99-108.
Abstract: The politics of oil pipelines have become increasingly salient in American politics in recent years. In particular, debates about economic benefits, energy security and environmental impact have been pro- voked by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline expansion intended to take bitumen from northern Alberta in Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast in Texas. Drawing on data from recent surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center, this article asks a series of questions. What levels of support for (and opposition to) the pipeline exist among the American public? What are the roles of political factors (such as party identification and ideology), economic attitudes, environmental attitudes and proximity to the proposed pipeline route in shaping attitudes toward the pipeline? And how do political factors and proximity to the pipeline interact? We find that partisanship and ideology drive attitudes toward the Keystone XL pipeline, and that the effect of ideology is attenuated by proximity to the proposed route. The policy implications of these findings for energy infrastructure siting controversies are discussed.
Lachapell, Erick and Matthew Patterson. 2013. "Drivers of National Climate Policy." Climate Policy 13 (5):547-71.
Abstract: Patterns of national climate policy performance and their implications for the geopolitics of climate change are examined. An overview of levels of emissions performance across countries is first provided. Substantial changes in emissions trends over time are documented, notably with GHG emissions trajectories, which are shaped less and less by the developed/developing country divide. Various patterns of policy convergence and divergence in the types of policies states implement are then surveyed. Four broad types of explanation that may account for these trends are then explored: (1) variation in the institutional form of country-level governance regimes, (2) patterns of dependence on fossil fuel energy, (3) broad systemic differences among states (specifically in their population densities, carbon intensity, and per capita incomes, and (4) variations in the traditions of economic intervention by states. The article contributes to the growing body of work on comparative climate policy, and provides a first attempt at exploring the comparative politics of instrument choice. The analysis challenges the continued importance of a North–South divide for the future of climate policy, thus reinforcing a sense of the ‘new geopolitics’ of climate change. Some of the implications of the analysis for debates about the form of future international agreement on mitigation policy are also explored.
DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2013.811333

Substantive Focus:
Energy and Natural Resource Policy SECONDARY
Environmental Policy PRIMARY
Science and Technology Policy
Comparative Public Policy

Theoretical Focus:
Public Opinion PRIMARY