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Perception Gaps

Global study shows climate perception gaps are prevalent around the world

12 February 2024

A new survey of nearly 130,000 people across 125 countries has found that there is widespread support for climate action around the world. But, people often don’t realise how much support there is.

The open access article, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, presents new, large-scale evidence of a global mandate for climate action, while shining a light on the pervasiveness of climate ‘perception gaps’. The headline findings across the global dataset show that:

  • 89% demand intensified political action.
  • 86% endorse the pro-climate ‘social norm’ that people in their country should try to fight global warming. 
  • Strikingly, 69% of the global population expresses a willingness to contribute 1% of their personal income. 

However, this ‘actual’ support for climate action was at a mismatch with what people ‘perceived’ the levels of support to be. Around the world, people “systematically underestimate the willingness of their fellow citizens to act”.

And these discrepancies matter. If we don’t believe there’s a mandate for green policies, inertia slows the pace of the green transition. ‘Perception gaps’ like these have consequences.

Reference article:

  • Source: Nature
  • Authors: Peter Andre, Teodora Boneva, Felix Chopra & Armin Falk
  • Date: 9th February 2024

The latest from the Perception Gaps timeline:

From the Climate Community 22nd February 2024

Video: People want climate action so why don’t politicians get it?

Climate Barometer’s Adam Corner created a short video talking about perception gaps, in collaboration with ‘Need to Know UK and VideoRev. 

Climate Barometer Tracker 30th November 2023

Tracker data: MP and public views on energy sources

Climate Barometer Tracker data over three waves shows clear patterns and differences in MP and public opinion about different forms of energy sources. MPs and the public share roughly the same opinion of solar power and coal, the former seeing consistently high support and the latter seeing consistently low support. And while MPs tend to overestimate public backlash to onshore wind, we see here that the public are actually more supportive of onshore wind than MPs.

There are a few areas in which public support is lower than that of MPs: nuclear energy, oil, gas, and hydroelectric dams. Support for blue and green hydrogen is also considerably lower, but likely due to low public knowledge about these sources of energy.

 

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