Survey shows very little climate skepticism in Europe

Widespread support for climate action in 4 major European countries

The average global temperature spiked to yet another record in March 2016.

Planet Earth experienced its second-warmest March on record. Map via NASA.

Staff Report

More than eight out of 10 people in the UK, France, Germany and Norway believe that the world’s climate is changing, and a similar proportion think that it is at least partly caused by human activity, according to a recent scientific survey conducted by European researchers.

The survey of more than 4,000 members of the public explored opinions on climate change, climate policy and future energy options. It showed that a wide majority also  support a range of different measures to combat climate change.

The study was coordinated by researchers at Cardiff University in collaboration with the University of Stuttgart in Germany, Institut Symlog in France, the University of Bergen and the Rokkan Centre in Norway, and Climate Outreach in the UK.

Cardiff University professor Nick Pidgeon said, “It is encouraging to see that most people in this very large study recognise that climate change is happening, and that support for the need to tackle it remains high amongst the people we surveyed. Indeed, there were only low levels of climate skepticism present in any of our four nations.”

Referring to the election of U.S. President Trump, Pidgeon said, “With the recently shifting political mood in some countries, climate policy is now entering a critical phase. It is therefore even more important that the public’s clear support shown in this survey for the Paris Agreement in 2015 is carried through by policymakers across Europe and worldwide

About 60 percent of the respondents said the world is already feeling the effects of climate change, which they believe is linked with disruption to weather in their country, such as more storms and floods, unpredictable weather, and hotter or dryer spells.

But the survey also found that people are still confused about the broad scientific consensus on climate change. In Germany, for example, only 24 percent believe there is a strong consensus, with slightly higher percentages in France (33 percent) and Norway (35 percent).

Majorities in all four countries support using public money to prepare now for the impacts of climate change and to help developing nations cope with extreme weather, while majorities of more than 70 percent in all countries support using public money to subsidise renewable energy sources.

The Europeans surveyed were also skeptical of a link between climate change and refugee migration, but said they think it could be a factor in the future.

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