Public risk perceptions, understandings, and responses to climate change in Australia and Great Britain

Rural conditions Climate change Australia Great Britain


Notwithstanding the seeming ever-fluctuating public concern levels with respect to the threat and impacts of ‘climate change’ around the world, there exists a more consistent and coherent evidence base suggesting that public concern about climate change remains quite high, both in Australia and overseas.

This interim report provides an initial look at the national survey findings of a collaborative and cross-national research project by Griffith University (Australia) and Cardiff University (Wales) examining public risk perceptions, understandings and responses to the threat and unfolding impacts of climate change in Australia and Great Britain. Each of these surveys, in addition to shared questions and objectives, had additional and differing objectives, with the Australian survey also examining public perceptions, experience, and responses to natural disasters, and the British survey examining energy policies and futures in the United Kingdom.

The Australian national survey was undertaken between 6 June and 6 July of 2010 and involved a geographically and demographically stratified national sample of 3096 respondents. The British survey was undertaken between 6 January and 26 March, 2010 and involved a representative quota sample of 1822 respondents residing in England, Scotland and Wales.

This interim report addresses common findings relating to these two interlinked surveys, and in addition provides some additional and preliminary information regarding the Australia-specific questions and findings from the Australian survey exercise. These surveys are distinctive in their cross-national comparative collaboration, in their in-depth nature, in their focus on underlying public understandings and psychological responses to climate change, and in their shared objective of documenting and monitoring important psychological and social changes and impacts in the human landscape relating to global climate change.

Authors: Joseph P. Reser, Nick Pidgeon, Alexa Spence, Graham Bradley, A. Ian Glendon & Michelle Ellul (Griffith University, Climate Change Response Program, Queensland, Australia, and Understanding Risk Centre, Cardiff University, Wales)

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