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Reports & guides | 17 June 2016

European perceptions of climate change: socio-political profiles & findings

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Update: two subsequent reports were published in 2017 as part of the European Perceptions of Climate Change project: Topline survey findings & Recommendations for public engagement.

European countries must continue cooperating with each other on global issues like climate change, regardless of the recent referendum result in the UK. Brexit makes understanding different nations’ perceptions even more important. By understanding how different European countries perceive climate change, progress can be made towards addressing the issue.

How do the culture and politics of a country shape its citizens’ perceptions of climate change? Do different European nations vary in their support for different energy technologies? And how have extreme weather events influenced national views about climate change, as climate impacts start to bite? The European Perceptions of Climate Change (EPCC) project has been designed to answer precisely these kinds of questions.

In the context of a crucial moment for European climate policy, this project addresses a significant knowledge gap with regard to European public engagement with climate change. While attitudes to climate change have been well documented in individual European countries, survey designs have never been coordinated.

This two year project is being lead by Cardiff University, with an inter-disciplinary project team from Institut Symlog, University of Stuttgart, University of Bergen, and Climate Outreach. It is funded by the Joint Programming Initiative (JPI).

The report takes each of the four countries involved – UK, Germany, France and Norway – and assesses them according to a set of criteria expected to have a major influence on public opinion with regards to climate change:

  • Cultural, historical & policy context
  • Key actors shaping public perceptions of energy and climate change
  • Key climate and energy-related events that have taken place
  • Anticipated consequences of climate change
  • Media reporting on energy and climate change

Insight from this report – combined with an ongoing process of stakeholder engagement with an international advisory panel – is being used to inform the centrepiece of the project, a survey of more than 4,000 people split across the four nations. The project team will also be producing recommendations for public engagement at the end of the project.

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