CAST Data Portal — Public Perceptions key insight summaries

Across all four countries people believe that we are already feelings the effects of climate change. This is highest in Brazil where 85% of people who completed the survey believe this, followed by Sweden with 66%, China and the UK with 64%.

People are worried about climate change. Again this is highest in Brazil where we found 73% of people reported feeling very or extremely worried with a further 20% fairly worried. Although levels of worry are lower in the other three countries, overall these numbers still represent large majorities: 76% are worried about climate change in the UK (of which 38% are very or extremely worried), 78% are worried in Sweden (of which 45% are very or extremely worried), and 73% are very worried in China (of which 35% are very or extremely worried).

People expect action on climate change. A majority of people in all four countries believe climate change needs to be addressed with a high or extremely high level of urgency – 82% in Brazil, 59% in China and 51% in Sweden and the UK.

People see transportation as an important area to tackle. When asked to choose which measures people thought were most effective at tackling climate change, walking, cycling or using public transport was picked by the highest number of respondents in all four countries – 24% in China, 22% in Brazil, 17% in Sweden and 16% in the UK.

Other measures that were perceived to be effective include using low-carbon heating in Brazil and China (both 18%), and minimising air travel in the UK and Sweden (14% and 17% respectively), as well as reducing energy use at home in the UK (14%). [Methodological note: respondents were presented with 8 measures and had to pick 3 they thought were most effective.]

A large majority of people support their country being part of the Paris Agreement. This is notably highest in China (78%), followed by the UK and Sweden (both 65%) and Brazil (64%). This is highest among those people who identify as environmentally minded (‘high’ in environmental identity). Nonetheless, majority support for the Paris Agreement still remains even when considering those who do not identify as particularly environmentally minded (‘low’ in environmental identity).

People support climate assemblies – when asked how much respondents support or oppose politicians allowing citizens’ opinions to directly feed into policy making (e.g. through citizen assemblies), majorities in all four countries are supportive. This support is especially notable in Brazil (74% support) and China (79% support), and less so in the UK (45%). In Sweden, only just under a third support (31%) and 19% oppose climate assemblies.

Across all four countries people who feel that being environmentally friendly is an important part of their identity (“high environmental identity”), are more supportive of a range of low-carbon lifestyle changes compared to people who don’t see the environment as an important part of their identity (low environmental identity).

For those respondents who see being environmentally friendly as part of their identity, a majority believe that society needs to reduce overall levels of consumption. This is highest in the UK (88%) followed by Sweden (87%), Brazil (79%), and China (63%). For people who do not see the environment as an important part of who they are (low environmental identity) these supportive majorities drop to 52% in China, 65% in the UK, 70% in Sweden and 67% in Brazil.

This is similar for reducing the amount of energy we use and reducing meat consumption.  Reducing the amount of energy we use at home was seen as a strategy we should probably/definitely adopt by 70-89% of respondents who see environmental protection as part of their identity across the four countries. For people who do not identify as environmentally friendly, support is lower – 60% in Sweden, 72% in the UK, 81% in Brazil and 76% in China.

A society wide reduction of meat consumption was seen as something we should probably or definitely do by 67-75% of respondents across the four countries, if they have a high environmental identity. If their environmental identity is low, however, then people in all four countries are more divided about whether or not this strategy should be adopted in their country (40% in the UK, 50% in Sweden, 48% in Brazil, 47% in China believe we should probably/definitely do this).  

First wave survey: 2020

CAST Briefing 8: Summary of UK public perception survey data

Second wave survey: 2021

CAST Briefing 10: Overall survey summary

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