JPI Climate project 'European Perceptions of Climate Change' releases topline findings of the 4-country survey

How worried about climate change are people in the UK, Germany, France and Norway and how do they view its impacts? When, if at all, do they expect to feel the impacts of climate change in their country: now or in 50 years? Do people perceive a strong scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change? Do these Europeans support a shift towards cleaner forms of energy, and what political strategies for addressing climate change do they also support?

The results of the JPI Climate project "EPCC", launched at a meeting in the Royal Society of London on 8/03/2017, provide answers to these important questions. The study surveyed for the very first time the in-depth, nationally representative opinions on climate change, climate policy and future energy options of over 4,000 members of the public in four countries which are central to climate policy and the efforts in Europe to construct a low carbon energy system of the future.

Topline results of the study are available in a new report from this link: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/98660/7/EPCC.pdf

View the Royal Society presentation and panel discussion, download reports and see press coverage.

A second launch event will be held in Paris on Wednesday 29 March 2017: free registration here.

The study was co-ordinated by Cardiff University in collaboration with the University of Stuttgart in Germany, Institut Symlog in France, the University of Bergen and the Rokkan Centre in Norway, and Climate Outreach in the UK.

A key finding was that majorities in all four participating countries believe that climate change is happening, and there is broad support for a range of different policy measures to address it. In particular, the study found:

Climate Change Beliefs

  • The majority (over 80% in all 4 countries) believe that the world’s climate is changing, and a similar proportion think that it is at least partly caused by human activity
  • Six in ten (60%) believe that we are already feeling the effects of climate change, and associate the main effects with disruption to weather in their country (more storms and floods, unpredictable weather, and hotter/dryer spells)

The Scientific Consensus

  • Only minority percentages (24% in Germany, 30% UK, 33% France, and 35% in Norway) believe that there is a strong scientific consensus on climate change

Support for Key Policy Measures

  • At least two thirds support their country being part of the 2015 Paris international climate change agreement
  • Majorities in all four countries support using public money to prepare now for the impacts of climate change, and to help developing nations cope with extreme weather
  • Renewable energy (solar, offshore and onshore wind, and hydropower) remain the most popular energy sources in all countries, and majorities of 69% or over support using public money to subsidise renewable energy sources

The Refugee Crisis in Europe and Future Migration
For the very first time the survey probed beliefs about climate change and migration, a topic which had attracted some media comment during 2016 in the light of the European refugee crisis.

  • A clear majority in all four countries dispute that climate change is one of the causes of the high number of refugees coming to Europe
  • However, 30% (in the UK), 37% (France), 39% (Germany) and 57% (in Norway) did think that climate change will lead to more migration to their country in the future

Professor Nick Pidgeon of Cardiff University’s School of Psychology who led the project commented: “It is encouraging to see that most people in this very large study recognise that climate change is happening, and that support for the need to tackle it remains high amongst the people we surveyed. Indeed, there were only low levels of climate scepticism present in any of our four nations.”

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, a member of the International Advisory Panel for the project, said: “The findings of this report show that the public’s awareness of climate change is fairly well developed, although more work needs to be done by governments, the scientific community and the media to communicate climate science in a way that is accurate and engaging. The UK government should build on the existing public support for climate policies to put forward in the near future a clear plan to meet the emissions reduction targets in the fifth carbon budget.”

Professor Pidgeon went on to add that: “With the recently shifting political mood in some countries, climate policy is now entering a critical phase. It is therefore even more important that the public’s clear support shown in this survey for the Paris Agreement in 2015 is carried through by policymakers across Europe and worldwide.”

The research was funded primarily by the national research councils of the four participating countries under the JPI-Climate programme, with fieldwork undertaken in all four countries during June 2016 by Ipsos MORI.

Notes

  1. For further information, hard copies of the survey report, or to arrange an interview with Professor Nick Pidgeon or the other Cardiff University investigators (Professor Wouter Poortinga or Dr Katharine Steentjes) or the investigators in the other participating countries please contact Michael Bishop at the Cardiff University Press Office. Tel: 02920 874499 / 07713 325300, e-mail bishopm1@cardiff.ac.uk
  2. The study comprised four identical nationally representative surveys of people aged 15+ conducted by Ipsos MORI face-to-face in the UK (n=1,033 interviews), Germany (1,001) and France (1,010) and by telephone in Norway (1,004). All the national data was weighted to ensure that the achieved sample was representative of the national adult populations. The survey was first developed in English, translated into the three other languages, and piloted before conducting the main fieldwork in early and mid-June 2016. All fieldwork was completed before the UK’s EU Referendum. 
  3. The record of the launch of results and panel discussion at the Royal Society in London can be viewed on the Cardiff University School of Psychology YouTube Channel. Please visit: https://www.youtube.com/user/cardiffpsychology
  4. Cardiff University is one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of UK universities. It was ranked 5th in the UK overall for its research excellence in the 2014 independent government (REF) assessment. Partners to the project in the UK were Climate Outreach; in Germany the University of Stuttgart; in France Institut Symlog; and in Norway the University of Bergen and the Rokkan Centre. 
  5. The study was funded in the UK by the Economic and Social Research Council, Cardiff School of Psychology, and the Cardiff Institute for Sustainable Places; in Germany by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research; in France part-funded by Agence Nationale de la Recherche; and in Norway by the KLIMAFORSK programme of the Norwegian Research Council and co-funded under the Akademia cooperation agreement Statoil and the University of Bergen. 
  6. Twitter hashtag #EPCC17

More about this project here.
 

JPI Climate project EPCC, Wednesday 15 March 2017