Presentation on theme: "Climate Risk and Public Perceptions in International Climate Negotiations Nick Pidgeon ESRC Climate Leader Fellow Understanding Risk Research Group Cardiff."— Presentation transcript:
Climate Risk and Public Perceptions in International Climate Negotiations Nick Pidgeon ESRC Climate Leader Fellow Understanding Risk Research Group Cardiff University DECC SAG 13 th October 2011
Climate Change – a Human and Social Problem! Key drivers of anthropogenic climate change are human activities (e.g. food and heating, transportation, consumption, population growth). Solutions are typically new technologies / engineering interventions or economic instruments (plus ‘lifestyle change’) Climate mitigation or adaptation is unlikely to succeed without behaviour and lifestyle changes – also acceptability of technologies and ‘policy instruments’ See: American Psychological Association Report on Climate Change (2010); Spence, Pidgeon and Uzzell, The Psychologist, Feb 09; Spence and Pidgeon, Environment, Dec 09.
Climate Risk and Uncertainties (See Pidgeon and Fischhoff, Nature Climate Change, 2011.) UK Stern report - adaptation and mitigation within risk- based frameworks: ▫‘[economic analysis] must be global, deal with long time horizons, have the economics of risk and uncertainty at its core, and examine the possibility of major, non-marginal changes’ (2006, p25, emphasis in the original). IPCC 4 th Assessment (2007). Conclusions expressed as likelihood and degree of belief (unlikely, likely etc.). UK Climate Projections ‘09 incorporate uncertainties to aid adaptation decision-making. The fat tail problem – the non-zero chance of extreme warming (t > 4deg) may dominate decisions (cf Weitzman, 07, 08)
‘Dangerous’ (unacceptable) climate change is a matter of science and values
Climate Change Risk Perceptions – Primarily Europe/US Extensive research has shown: People are concerned about cc (until very recently increasing), believe it is happening, but some still think it is natural variation Can confuse cc with other environmental issues (e.g. ozone) In Europe and North America view it as a distant problem affecting other people and times (‘psychological distance’) Recognise the effects (heat, melting glaciers) but don’t spontaneously connect these with anthropogenic causes (energy use, deforestation) Many causes (e.g. electricity use) ‘invisible’ in everyday life Scepticism is now rising! Lorenzoni and Pidgeon (2006) Climatic Change, 77, 73-95. Pidgeon (2011) GOScience/Foresight Intl. Dimensions of Climate Change Project.
Recent UK Climate Change Attitudes 2006-2010 (source DfT, 2011)
Ipsos-Mori / Cardiff University 2010 Climate-Energy Survey Core GB Sample = 1,528 Plus boosters: Scotland: 109 Wales: 185 Total:1,822 Scotland: n = 243 Wales: n = 260 England: n = 1,319 Fieldwork in House between: 6 th January and 26 th March 2010
Scepticism and Uncertainty (2010) Climate change is entirely caused by natural processes6% Climate change is mainly caused by natural processes12% Climate change is partly caused by natural processes and partly caused by human activity 47% Climate change is mainly caused by human activity24% Climate change is entirely caused by human activity7% I think there is no such thing as climate change2% “Thinking about the causes of climate change, which, if any, of the following best describes your opinion?” 78% 18%
Scepticism - Potential Explanations Issue fatigue The economy.......... Politicisation and distrust Resistance to unwelcome truths Media amplification (UEA-CRU affair) Lack of localisation for people (a global problem) Slippage between impact uncertainty and causal uncertainty - also are some more sceptical than others?
Scepticism - Values and Demographics (Cardiff 2010 Survey) Poortinga et al (2011) Global Environmental Change, 21, 1015-1024 People Who Expressed Greater Scepticism about Climate Change in Our 2010 Survey Tended to be: Older (55+) Slightly Lower Income (SES) Conservative Voting Less Certain About the Issue Less Likely to see it Affecting their Area/Them Weaker Environmental / Benevolent Values Stronger Traditional Values
Flooding impacts on climate beliefs Source: Spence et al, Perceptions of climate change and willingness to save energy related to flood experiences, Nature Climate Change, 2011, 1, 46-49.
Attitudes to CC - International Perspectives Survey coverage is patchy (better in developed nations) and always lags behind Issues of comparability (samples and questions) Qualitative data even more sparse ▫Brechin, S.R. 2010. “Chapter 10: Public Opinion: A Cross-National View”, In C. Lever-Tracy (ed.) Routledge Handbook of Climate Change and Society. Routledge Press. ▫Pidgeon, N.F. (2011) Public Understanding of and Attitudes Towards Climate Change, pp67. Foresight International Dimensions of Climate Change Project, Government Office of Science/Foresight Programme. ▫Lorenzoni, I. & Pidgeon, N. F. 2006. Public views on climate change: European and USA perspectives. Clim. Change 77, 73–95.
Climate Change – not a ‘top of mind problem source: Greendex Poll in 2008, in: Brechin (2010) Public opinion: a cross-national view. In C. Lever-Tracy (ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Climate Change and Society. London: Routledge, pp. 179-209.
Source: World Public Opinion: in Brechin (2010)
International Cooperation – Source: World Public Opinion 2009
Concluding Thoughts Who will act first on cc? Governments do need to demonstrate significant leadership here Support for targeted govt action (domestic and internationally) may be higher in many countries than is sometimes assumed Levels of knowledge / concern / support for action differ by country – so national context matters Climate impacts (flooding) may bring new opportunities to localise cc for UK public(s) if the right narrative (around increasing risk of such events for the UK in the future) can be established at a policy level Rising climate scepticism - in the US, UK and some other (although not all) EU countries - is an issue, although should not be overemphasised.
Acknowledgements Adam Corner, Baruch Fischhoff, Irene Lorenzoni, Alexa Spence, Catherine Butler, Wouter Poortinga. Website for our own survey reports: www.understanding-risk.org