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Reports & guides | 10 March 2020

Engaging the public on climate risks and adaptation

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A new survey reveals the biggest shift yet in public perceptions of climate risks and adaptation in the UK, and is accompanied by a guide providing practical, evidence-based recommendations to move from concern to commitment.

As the UK continues to deal with record-breaking flooding and prepares to host the UN climate summit in November, a survey conducted in collaboration with Cardiff University reveals the biggest shift yet in public perceptions of climate risks, resilience and adaptation.

Topline findings of the survey of over 1400 nationally-representative adults in October 2019 include the fact that climate change was ranked the second most important issue facing the UK – up from 13th place in 2016. Climate concern has doubled in the past four years, with 40% saying they were now ‘very or extremely’ worried. 75% of survey respondents supported using public money now to prepare the UK for climate risks.

But how do we move from concern to action, particularly in the run-up to the UN climate summit? To accompany the survey findings report which we co-authored, we’re releasing this guide which highlights the importance of effective public engagement for progress on climate adaptation. It provides seven practical, evidence-based recommendations for communicators and practitioners working to engage the public on climate risks and adaptation.

Press coverage highlights

BBC: Climate concerns grow amid wettest February on record
Climate Home: Public opinion on climate change is up but let’s not forget lessons from the past
Daily Mail: Climate change vying with Brexit as top UK concern – survey
New Scientist: Twice as many UK citizens worried about climate change as 3 years ago
Reuters: Top UK worry? Climate change rises up to challenge Brexit
Evening Standard: Climate change rivalling Brexit for most important issue facing UK
itv: Climate change vying with Brexit as top UK concern – survey

Launch event – March 2020

The survey results and public engagement recommendations were announced at a launch event at the Royal Society in London on 3 March 2020. Prof Nick Pidgeon, Dr Kat Steentjes and Dr Adam Corner presented key findings and recommendations. They were followed by Anna Beswick who shared how Adaptation Scotland is engaging Scottish communities on climate adaptation, and Keith Jones who spoke about how The National Trust is engaging their members around adaptation.

This project is part of the UK Climate Resilience joint programme. Thank you to UK Research & Innovation, the Natural Environment Research Council and the Met Office for supporting this project.

Follow up webinar – October 2020

The RESIL-RISK project presented updated survey findings in a webinar for Scottish stakeholders, discussing public perceptions in the context of Covid-19, with a particular focus on implications in Scotland.

Videos & podcasts


Research conducted in the UK in October 2019 showed that climate change came second only to Brexit when respondents were asked which were the main issues that the country would face in the next 20 years. Dr Adam Corner joins Lydia Messling to discuss the research and the principles for public engagement that they have derived from it.

Engaging the public on climate risks and adaptation

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