Presentation on theme: "Public Perceptions and Public Engagement Heidi Gantwerk Vice President, Viewpoint Learning Presented to the California Council on Science and Technology."— Presentation transcript:
Public Perceptions and Public Engagement Heidi Gantwerk Vice President, Viewpoint Learning Presented to the California Council on Science and Technology October 31, 2006
2 A disconnect on energy/climate change Renewable sources (wind and solar) cannot meet the states future energy needs California cannot conserve its way out of the problem Growing openness to nuclear power Strong support for investing in wind and solar (83% support) Strong support for requiring greater fuel efficiency (74% support) Strong opposition to building new nuclear plants (52% oppose) Experts and the public agree that climate change is a serious problem and that steps must be taken - but beyond this their opinions diverge: Expert opinionPublic opinion Unanswered question: Are Californians willing to go beyond these measures?
3 Polls have proven strengths ACCURATE: a snapshot of what the public says and feels at a moment in time RELIABLE: people rarely lie in polls OBJECTIVE: avoid special interest bias PREDICTIVE: but ONLY when the publics views are firm
4 But polls also have limitations When publics views are unresolved, polls are not predictive Publics views are unresolved on more than 90% of Californias policy issues Poll findings do not reveal volatility of views Answers to single questions often distort meaning Polls do not permit the public to work through painful tradeoffs Polls have huge potential to mislead policy makers
5 Sustainable solutions require support from all sectors Public Policy Makers Experts
6 Challenges to engaging the public Changing public expectations l More educated and informed population l Greater demand for openness, accountability and responsiveness l Increasing insistence on having a voice Increased availability of information (media, internet) New era of mistrust
7 Thoughtful Public Engagement Information + The traditional model of public engagement Unorganized Public Opinion Inconsistent Unstable Consequences unclear But its not about information…
8 Wishful thinking confronted Stages Thoughtful Public Engagement Multiple framings + Information A more realistic model of public engagement Values-based choices Sense of inclusion Unorganized Public Opinion Inconsistent Unstable Consequences unclear
9 Scientists can be a critical bridge between public and policy-makers Public support is necessary for any policy to be sustainable in the long run Scientists benefit when the public sees them as allies in a common search for solutions (rather than experts telling them what to do) When public and scientists are on the same page, scientists get much-needed clout
10 A possible game plan Engage policy makers and business leaders in Strategic Dialogue to develop realistic energy scenarios that they will be willing to support and to see tested with the public Test these scenarios in ChoiceDialogues with Californians to identify which approaches the public will be willing to support and under what conditions Outcomes: A road map leaders can use to advance sustainable energy policy
11 Strategic Dialogue: sets the framework Structured dialogues with a range of leaders (including business leaders, environmental advocates, elected officials, scientists, civic leaders) designed to: l Identify key trends shaping the states current energy situation and key certainties and uncertainties that will shape the future l Frame the questions to be addressed l Develop different scenarios for change that can be tested with the public l Build commitment to implementation of the actions that will be taken
12 ChoiceDialogue: A new research tool A series of dialogues with representative cross-sections of the public (30-40 participants in each session) Eight-hour sessions allow intense social learning Dialogue organized around 3-4 alternative scenarios developed in advance Special workbook sets agenda, gives background on issues, lays out pros and cons grounded in research Facilitation keeps people on track and in dialogue mode Before and after measures quantify shifts in preferences, coupled with qualitative analysis
13 Focus Groups vs. ChoiceDialogues Focus GroupsChoiceDialogues Two hoursEight hours 8-12 participants30-40 participants Capture current thinkingCapture future thinking Avoid changing mindsExplore how minds change Participant learning is minimalA huge amount of learning Trust building minimalA huge amount of trust building Strong feelings controlledStrong feelings elicited Changes are randomChanges are significant
14 What sort of questions this sort of project can answer How do Californians want to respond to the threat of global climate change? What direction do Californians want to see for the states energy policy? How do Californians want to balance different components of the energy mix (including supply, conservation and lifestyle changes)? What role do Californians want to see for nuclear energy in Californias energy supply, and what are their key conditions and concerns?
15 Outcomes Greater understanding of which solutions the public, industry and advocates will be likely to support Important conditions for that support Potential roadblocks A road map leaders can use to advance public understanding and engagement in a sustainable energy policy