Climate change is a threat to human societies and natural ecosystems, yet public opinion research finds that public awareness and concern vary greatly. Here, using an unprecedented survey of 119 countries, we determine the relative influence of socio-demographic characteristics, geography, perceived well-being, and beliefs on public climate change awareness and risk perceptions at national scales. Worldwide, educational attainment is the single strongest predictor of climate change awareness. Understanding the anthropogenic cause of climate change is the strongest predictor of climate change risk perceptions, particularly in Latin America and Europe, whereas perception of local temperature change is the strongest predictor in many African and Asian countries. However, other key factors associated with public awareness and risk perceptions highlight the need to develop tailored climate communication strategies for individual nations. The results suggest that improving basic education, climate literacy, and public understanding of the local dimensions of climate change are vital to public engagement and support for climate action.
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This research was supported in part by the Earth Institute Fellows Program, Columbia University and the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication (T.M.L.). The authors wish to thank A. Pugliese (Gallup World Poll) for assistance with the survey data and D. Budescu (Fordham University) for comments on the manuscript.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Lee, T., Markowitz, E., Howe, P. et al. Predictors of public climate change awareness and risk perception around the world. Nature Clim Change 5, 1014–1020 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2728
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