There is continuing debate about which climate-policy instruments are most appropriate to reduce emissions. Undertaking a global survey among scientists who published on climate policy, we provide a systematic overview of (dis)agreements about six main types of policy instruments. The survey includes various fields across the social and natural sciences. The results show that, on average, all instruments are considered important, with direct regulation receiving the highest rating and adoption subsidies and cap-and-trade the lowest. The latter is surprising given the theoretical advantages and real-world success of the EU-ETS. Next, clustering scientific fields based on how important they consider the instruments, we determine five distinct groups, with (a) ecological economists and (b) mathematics/computer science being most dissimilar from other discipline clusters. We explain disagreement through assessing the relative importance assigned to policy criteria effectiveness, efficiency, equity and socio-political feasibility, as well as researchers' attitudes and background. Paying special attention to carbon pricing, motivated by its contested key role, we identify three respondent clusters, namely ‘enthusiasts’, ‘undecided’, and ‘skeptics’. Examining various policy arguments, we find that agreeing that carbon pricing effectively limits energy/carbon rebound and has potential to be harmonized globally have the strongest association with giving importance to this policy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108098
Number of pages12
JournalEcological Economics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • Carbon pricing
  • Cluster analysis
  • Multidisciplinary
  • Questionnaire survey
  • Scientific opinion


Dive into the research topics of 'A Global Survey of Scientific Consensus and Controversy on Instruments of Climate Policy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this