Marc Debus, Noam Himmelrath
Advocates of climate action? The age of members of parliament and their activity in legislative debates on climate change

Climate Action, 2022: 1, issue 1, (article-no. 16), pp. 1-13
ISSN: 2731-3263

Parliamentary debates are an important stage in the process of designing new policies and play an important role for discussing the policy reactions to exogenous events like the COVID-19 pandemic or long-term developments like climate change. We combine theories on vote-seeking strategies of political actors with theoretical accounts that highlight the impact of personal characteristics of politicians and argue that in particular younger Members of Parliament (MPs) should put more emphasis on issues related to climate change and its consequences than older MPs. We test our hypotheses on the basis of an original dataset covering all parliamentary debates that focus on issues related to climate change in the German Bundestag from 2013 until 2021, thus concentrating on a time period when climate change became a highly salient issue among the German public. We find that the age of MPs matters: the younger MPs are, the more speeches they contribute to parliamentary debates related to climate policy.