Public perceptions and engagement with climate change

Please note change of venue. The seminar will now be held in the Large Lecture Room at Nuffield College. Apologies: Due to unforeseen circumstances, lunch will not be provided before the seminar.

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. This presentation will draw upon a programme of work conducted at Cardiff University, and use the recent European Social Survey Round 8 (n=44,387), to give an overview of how climate change perceptions differ across nations and have changed over time, and suggest a number of contextual factors that contribute to these variations. The presentation will further cover why individuals may find it difficult to engage with climate change, using the concept of ‘psychological distance’, and discuss how they make sense of climate change in the absence of direct experience. Specifically, it will explore the role of weather (temperature and extreme events), scientific consensus and trust, the impact of sceptical media reports, as well as ‘the finite pool of worry’ hypothesis.