Europeans say they already feel the impacts of climate change

A new study about climate change perceptions of European citizens in France, Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom reveals that the majority think their country is already feeling the effects of climate change.

The study, which was written by a team of authors from Cardiff University (UK), Climate Outreach (UK), Institut Symlog (France), Rokkan Centre for Social Studies (Norway), University of Bergen (Norway), and the University of Stuttgart (Germany), also shows that an overwhelming majority of people (83-93%) agree that the climate is changing now.

In 2014, a report prepared by Acclimatise for CDP in 2014 showed that European businesses had already started identifying climate risks to their operations, the most anticipated risk being a reduction or disruption in production capacity. Earlier this year, a report by the European Environment Agency found that climate change is already having wide-ranging impacts on ecosystems, the economy, and on human health and well-being in Europe. Now, the perceptions study confirms that the wider public is feeling these impacts and that they are connecting them to climate change.

The results not only show that the idea that climate change is widely seen as a problem of the future is incorrect, but also that there is strong support from the public for climate action. Measures that were looked on favourably include: clean energy subsidies, giving financial aid for developing countries to build climate resilience, and financial penalties for those countries that refuse to participate and implement the Paris Agreement.

Additionally, the survey also explored such issues as the scientific consensus about climate change, the relevance of climate change with regards to other national issues, emotions towards climate change, and much more.

Based on the survey results, the research team produced a set of six recommendations for public engagement:

  1. Climate change is getting closer to home for many Europeans: Connect with people’s experiences and expectations around extreme weather.
  2. Adaptation policies are uncontroversial: Build on this to talk about different types of climate measures.
  3. Support for renewable energy is consistently high: Emphasise the social consensus on climate change to build a sense of momentum.
  4. Identities and priority concerns differ across nations: Work ‘with the grain’ to make climate communication regionally relevant.
  5. People are already moving in response to climate change, but the connection is not yet well understood: Cautiously and constructively make the link between climate change and migration.
  6. Awareness of some commonly-used policy and campaigning terms is low across the four surveyed nations: Avoid policy jargon.


Download the survey report here: LINK.

Download the public engagement recommendations here: LINK.

Visit the Acclimatise website for original content

Post written by Elisa Jiménez Alonso | 13th March 2016

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