Our Common Future Under Climate Change

International Scientific Conference 7-10 JULY 2015 Paris, France

Menu
  • Home
  • Zoom Interactive Programme
Cliquer pour fermer

Wednesday 8 July - 17:30-19:00 UPMC Jussieu - ROOM 101 - Block 14/24

2240 - Perceptions of climate change

Parallel Session

Lead Convener(s): S. Pahl (Plymouth University, Plymouth, Devon, United Kingdom)

Convener(s): A. Bostrom (Policy, Seattle, United States of America), G. Böhm (Psychology, Bergen, Norway)

17:30

International Perceptions of Climate Change Over the Past 25 Years: A Review

W. Poortinga (Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom), S. Capstick, (Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom), L. Whitmarsh (Cardiff University, Cardiff , United Kingdom), N. Pidgeon (Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom), P. Upham, (University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom)

Abstract details
International Perceptions of Climate Change Over the Past 25 Years: A Review

W. Poortinga (1) ; S. Capstick, (2) ; L. Whitmarsh (3) ; N. Pidgeon (2) ; P. Upham, (4)
(1) Cardiff University, Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff, United Kingdom; (2) Cardiff University, School of psychology, Cardiff, United Kingdom; (3) Cardiff University, School of Psychology, Cardiff , United Kingdom; (4) University of Leeds, School of earth & environment, Leeds, United Kingdom

Abstract content

The ways in which individuals, societies, and polities respond to climate change are in many cases contingent on public perceptions of its causes, consequences, and wider implications. Understanding popular opinion on climate change is therefore critically important to enable a social transformation to a low-carbon economy. Public perceptions of climate change are known to differ between nations and have fluctuated over time. Several explanations have been put forward for these variations. With over two decades of research on public perceptions of climate change, we are now in a position to take stock of the key trends over this time period and the factors behind the changes. In this contribution we will present the findings from a systematic literature review of studies that have used longitudinal methods to examine changes in and drivers of public opinion on climate change. In this review we consider early, seminal work on public perceptions of climate change from the 1980s onwards, and national and international surveys with a longitudinal component. Studies point to growing scepticism in the latter 2000s in a limited number of developed countries. However, most parts of the world have seen growing concern about climate change in same time periods. We conclude that the imbalance in the literature toward polling data, and toward studies of public perceptions in Western nations (particularly the United States), leaves much unknown about the progression of public understanding of climate change worldwide. Furthermore, more research is required that uses inferential statistical procedures to understand the reasons behind trends in public perceptions. (Session 2240 - Perception of climate change).

17:40

Public perceptions of weather and climate change in the United Kingdom

W. Bruine De Bruin (Leeds University Business School, Leeds, United Kingdom), A. L. Taylor (Leeds University Business School, Leeds, United Kingdom), S. Dessai (University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom), C. Lefevre (Northumbria University , NewCastle, United Kingdom)

Abstract details
Public perceptions of weather and climate change in the United Kingdom

W. Bruine De Bruin (1) ; AL. Taylor (1) ; S. Dessai (2) ; C. Lefevre (3)
(1) Leeds University Business School, Centre for Decision Research, Leeds, United Kingdom; (2) University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom; (3) Northumbria University , School of psychology, NewCastle, United Kingdom

Abstract content

BACKGROUND.

Public perception surveys in the US have suggested that Americans’ concerns about climate change are related to their experiences of very hot weather.  Such findings raise questions about the climate change beliefs of people in regions with moderate climates, including the United Kingdom (UK).  Indeed, our work has suggested that UK residents may actually feel good about the prospect of warmer summers (e.g. Lefevre et al., 2015; see also Palutikof et al. 2004). Such findings raise the question of whether other types of locally experienced weather may be associated with concerns about climate change, among residents of those countries.  Indeed, relatively little is known about whether public concerns about climate change may also be associated with perceived changes in other weather-related events, such as heavy rainfall.  We therefore examined (1) the extent to which UK residents perceive different types of weather and related events to have changed in frequency over the lifetimes; and (2) the relationship between perceived changes in the frequency of these events and climate change belief.

METHOD.

We report on an initial UK-wide survey that was conducted January/February of 2013, with longitudinal follow-up surveys occurring in October 2013, April 2014, and July 2014.  These surveys contained items asking participants about the extent to which they perceived nine types of weather-related event to have increased or decreased in frequency over their lifetime (including heatwaves and heavy rainfall, among others).  Participants also rated their concerns about climate change, using a reliable 3-item assessment.

RESULTS.

Our analyses showed that participants tended to perceive wet-weather and water related events (heavy rainfall, flooding, coastal erosion) to have increased in frequency over their lifetime, while hot summers and heatwaves were perceived to have decreased over their lifetime. Moreover, controlling for the effects of demographic variables and environmental values, we found that perceived increases in wet-weather were significantly associated with greater climate change concerns, with perceived change in the frequency of of hot-weather making a comparatively small contribution.  These findings held in the initial survey as well as the longitudinal follow-up surveys that were held as the weather changed across seasons.

CONCLUSIONS.

We found that amongst UK residents, perceptions of wet weather and related events are more strongly associated with beliefs about climate change than perceptions of hot weather. These findings suggest that those seeking to communicate about climate change with audiences in regions with temperate climates should not limit their focus to heat-related impacts, but also emphasize other types of locally salient weather.

17:50

Analysis of factors shaping small-scale farmers' perceptions about climate change in South Africa: A behavioral approach

P. Hitayezu (University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa), E. Wale, (University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa), G. Ortmann, (University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa)

Abstract details
Analysis of factors shaping small-scale farmers' perceptions about climate change in South Africa: A behavioral approach

P. Hitayezu (1) ; E. Wale, (1) ; G. Ortmann, (1)
(1) University of KwaZulu-Natal, School of Agricultural, Earth, and Environmental Sciences, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Abstract content

Raising public awareness of the real threat posed by CC has been a common pledge in many countries’ CC response policies. In many cases, however, tendencies by policymakers to overlook the differences in public opinions have resulted in policy inertia, passive resistance, and even active opposition. Therefore, effective CC communication requires a good understanding of public opinions and a recognition of individual variation in learning processes. In South Africa, for example, recent empirical studies have shown that small-scale farmers hardly recognize the patterns of local climatic changes. The studies, however, have simplistically argued that the misperceptions could be due to the complexity of biophysical processes that can be hardly discerned by farmers. They have often overlooked the importance of socio-psychological, institutional and cultural processes underlying individual perceptual formation.

 

Based on key insights of the behavioural decision research, this study investigated the affective, experiential, cognitive and cultural factors shaping the perceptions about climate change among small-scale farmers in the midlands region of KwaZulu-Natal, a major hotspot of climate change in South Africa. A principal component analysis of perceptions about climate change revealed two contrasting perceptual shapes. Whilst meteorological records indicated that the area has experienced drying trends in summer coupled with warming and wetting trends in winter over the last four decades, CCP1 score revealed inaccurately perceived trends of cooling and drying winters and warming and drying summers. CCP2 score exhibited stark similarity with meteorological observations.

 

Using a Double-Hurdle estimation strategy, the results of the Probit model suggested that climate change perception is triggered by emotive factors (holistic affect) and value judgement, as well as socio-demographic factors such age, gender, education, and agro-ecological conditions. In line with the conceptual expectations from the behavioural approach, the results of the Truncated regression model showed that the CCP1 score increases with holistic affect and inherently experiential socio-demographic factors such as, age, and distance to the rivers, whilst the CCP2 score is determined by cognitive and socio-cultural factors, including knowledge, education, extension, and trust.

 

Based on these findings, the study concludes with some recommendations for effective regional CC communication strategies that recognize individual variation in learning processes. 

18:00

Mental models of climate change: Basis for risk evaluation, policy support, and message reception

G. Böhm (Psychology, Bergen, Norway), A. Bostrom (Policy, Seattle, United States of America)

Abstract details
Mental models of climate change: Basis for risk evaluation, policy support, and message reception

G. Böhm (1) ; A. Bostrom (2)
(1) Psychology, Bergen, Norway; (2) Policy, Seattle, United States of America

Abstract content

Human behavior plays a central role in climate change risks. In addition to precipitating rapid global warming by burning fossil fuels, humans can also act to prevent, ameliorate or adapt to climate change and its consequences. It is therefore important to understand how people perceive climate change, its impacts, and the opportunities for and effects of human actions. Mental models are an essential part of risk perception; they shape subjective risk evaluations, policy preferences, and the reception of risk communications.

We present 3 studies in which we pursued three aims: (a) describe lay causal mental models of climate change risks, (b) relate mental models to risk judgments and policy preferences, (c) draw conclusions concerning the communication of climate change risks.

Study 1 (N=133) employs a cognitive mapping technique to elicit people’s mental models. Participants also evaluated a set of climate change risks on several psychometric risk scales. Results show that mental models are structured according to a causal chain that ranges from attitudes via behaviors, pollution, and environmental impacts to impacts on humans. These components differ systematically in perceived risk and perceived controllability. Network analysis reveals that lay models tend to be simple and unconnected.

Study 2, an experiment with USA MTurk participants (N=892) suggests that even when controlling for causal beliefs, mindsets can have a significant effect on support for mitigative policies, but perceptions of the costs of action have a much larger deterrent effect on support. Study participants were assigned randomly to experimental conditions, two of which were designed to promote concrete, specific thinking, two to promote abstract, goal-oriented thinking. Participants in an abstract mindset were significantly more likely to support increasing taxes on fossil fuels. But the effect is much smaller than the association with perceived social and personal costs. Causal beliefs—such as that increasing taxes on fossil fuels will effectively slow or stop climate change—remain positively associated with support for such taxes, whereas political ideology drops out as a predictor of policy support, once mindset and other factors are taken into account. 

Study 3, a cross-national survey, demonstrates the important role of risk perceptions and causal beliefs in the formation of policy preferences of economics and business undergraduates from six countries: Austria, Bangladesh, Finland, Germany, Norway, and USA (total N = 664). Five constructs were measured: risk perception, perceived causes, perceived consequences, perceived effectiveness of a set of policy actions, and support for the same set of policy actions. Regression analyses with policy support as criterion and the other factors as predictors show that policy support can be predicted by risk perceptions and causal mental models. In all analyses, adding perceived causes and perceived effectiveness as predictors adds significant explained variance. Perceived effectiveness is generally a stronger predictor than ascribed causes.

Taken together, the studies show that mental models shape both people’s evaluation of climate change risk and their support for specific policy options. Causal beliefs seem more important that political ideology, but perceived costs may have deterrent effects. One implication of the results is that all communications must relate to people’s mental models and that promoting an abstract, goal-oriented mindset strengthens policy support. Furthermore, communicating the effectiveness of policy actions may influence support for these actions more than providing other causal knowledge. Future research should address the exact mediating roles of mindset, perceived risk, causal beliefs, and perceived policy effectiveness in shaping policy support and the processing of communications.

18:10

Believing, Belonging and Behaving: Exploring Mismatch between Climate Change Perceptions and Individual Mitigation Behaviours across 27 European Countries

R. Muttarak (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria)

Abstract details
Believing, Belonging and Behaving: Exploring Mismatch between Climate Change Perceptions and Individual Mitigation Behaviours across 27 European Countries

R. Muttarak (1)
(1) International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, World Population Program, Laxenburg, Austria

Abstract content

Individual behaviour is key to CO2 emission reduction. Despite increased awareness of climate change, climate-related beliefs however do not always translate into actions. This study aims to explain the mismatch between beliefs and behaviours by investigating the role of individual socio-demographic, meso and macro level factors across countries and over time. The study employs a novel 3Bs framework –believing, belonging, behaving– originally developed to analyse religiosity in sociology to identify underlying drivers of climate-related actions at micro, meso and macro levels. According to the 3Bs framework, individual socio-demographic characteristics influence internal attributes e.g., values, knowledge and climate risk perceptions (Believing), which can trigger behavioural responses (Behaving). Similarly, external factors e.g., the institutional and cultural conditions of a social group, community and country where people belong (Belonging) mediate attitudes and behaviours. The empirical analysis is based on the Eurobarometer surveys for the years 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2013 (Modules 69.2, 72.1, 75.4 and 80.2, respectively) covering over 100,000 respondents in 27 member countries of the European Union. Preliminary results show that women and the highly educated express greater concern about climate change and are more likely to undertake personal actions to mitigate climate change. The public concern about climate change however has decline, especially in the period after the 2008 financial crisis. There is substantial geographic variation for both perceptions towards climate change and climate-related actions, and, importantly, for the extent of the mismatch between attitudes and actions. For instance, residents in countries like Austria, Spain, and Slovenia have both a relatively high concern about climate change and a high proportion of individuals undertaking mitigation actions. On the other hand, a group of many new EU member countries such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland display both relatively low level of concern about climate change and low level of mitigation actions. Likewise, the same proportion of individuals from Luxembourg and Bulgaria (73.0%) perceived climate change as a very serious problem but only 30.8% of residents in the latter perform mitigation actions as compared to as many as 79.1% of the former. Understanding what barriers prevent individuals from some countries to take actions despite their climate change concern is therefore crucial for policy interventions.

 

18:20

Poster presentations

Abstract details
Poster presentations
Abstract content
18:30

Panel discussion

N. Pidgeon (Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom), F. Otto (University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom)

Abstract details
Panel discussion
Abstract content