Engaging the public on climate risks and adaptation: a briefing with survey results and guidance
12 March 2020
Public Engagement - report
Climate Outreach and the University of Cardiff carried out a survey to gauge public perception of climate change and its associated risks. Here, the findings are presented alongside a guide that provides seven practical, evidence-based recommendations for communicators and practitioners working to engage the public on climate risks and adaptation.
Major new survey carried out by Climate Outreach in collaboration with the University of Cardiff reveals 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
Topline findings of the survey of over 1400 nationally-representative adults in October 2019 include:
- 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 their survey findings report, the group have included a guide that 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.
This includes looking at the sorts of messages and framings that are likely to be most effective; linking to everyday experiences (e.g., with increasingly hot summers, or impacts that are 'closer to home'), whilst providing information on possible solutions; highlighting connections between health and wellbeing and climate change; and focusing dialogue around a 'just transition' - with plenty of details recommendations.
It also presents how climate concern and experiencing climate change as an emotional issue ('e.g., 'fear' and 'guilt' has grown however it has not yet deepened into something that resonates at the level of people’s core values and identity:
"It is well-established that what drives public attitudes towards climate change is not primarily people’s knowledge of the science of climate change (although conveying the scientific consensus around the issue is important1); rather, people’s values, their sense of identity, and their political/ cultural worldviews are more fundamental influences on how people engage with climate change2."