Climate Change: Surveys From Fifteen Countries

A Campaign Strategy Paper Climate Change: Surveys From Fifteen Countries presents data from surveys conducted for Greenpeace in 15 countries from 2011-2015, using values-based segmentation.  It concludes:

  1. There is no evidence that ‘climate change disbelief’ or scepticism is a significant problem in public opinion (as opposed to politics and media). In 15 of 15 countries surveyed, climate ‘believers’ outweigh ‘sceptics’.
  2. In no case in 15 countries does ‘strong scepticism’ (strongly agreeing with the statement “Climate Change – I don’t believe in it”) reach more than 20%. In the US it is under 12% despite a majority of Republican politicians (but not Republican voters) being ‘sceptic’.
  3. In all countries surveyed, more people believe in climate change than do not believe in it.
  4. Polls run in the US and UK do not represent the rest of the world: the public in the great majority of countries are much less climate sceptic than those in a country like Britain. Strong ‘believers’ outweigh ‘strong sceptics’ in Argentina more than 10:1, in the Philippines more than 8:1, and even in the UK 4:1, in the US about 3:1 and in Turkey, the most ‘sceptic’ of the 15, by more than 2:1.
  5. A majority in all countries (eight tested) agree they have noticed the climate changing. Significantly more agree with this than agree that they ‘believe in’ climate change. This apparent paradox is due to both questions being assessed intuitively not analytically but in different ways.
  6. There is majority support for increasing renewable energy as the main source of electricity in all eight countries where questions were asked (in most cases over 70%).
  7. Values segmented responses show that unconsciously-held motivational values are determining differences in public opinion on ‘climate change’ within countries, and the willingness to engage in the steps required to tackle it.
  8. The Now People Prospectors and the Transcender Pioneers are consistently the ‘climate leader’ Values Modes. The Golden Dreamer Prospectors and Brave New World Settlers lead the sceptics.
  9. This is true across countries with very different cultures, political and social systems and at different stages of development.
  10. Opinion polls that do not take values into account are blind to these insights and communications campaigns drawn up on the basis of ‘normal’ opinion polls can easily be wrongly framed or targeted at as a result.
  11. The underlying values biases or skews are consistent across countries despite the big differences in the overall level of climate belief or scepticism (and although not much explored here, when it comes to taking action such as supporting renewables, unless the ask/offer is reformulated to match Settler or Golden Dreamer Prospector values).
  12. Other unconscious (Kahneman System 1) factors such as framing and heuristics, intersect with values to drive behaviour and opinion, even leading to people saying they have noticed the climate changing is happening, while also saying that climate change does not exist.
  13. Climate advocates and communicators need to utilise values insights to improve their communications and avoid perpetuating redundant frames such as societies divided over climate change. This only plays into the hands of their opponents in the fossil fuel lobby. They also need to influence climate scientists not to inadvertently create the same effect.
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