The CAST Data Portal goes live! Explore and understand public perceptions of climate change

What do people across the world think about climate change? Do they want to see action or do they prefer things to stay the same?

These are questions that many stakeholders are grappling with, whether they are academics, the media, policymakers, business, civil society practitioners or others. We know that public awareness of climate change has risen tremendously in recent years in the UK however there are a lot of nuances to understanding public perception that often get overlooked.

  • How does this differ across different groups, areas and countries?
  • What kinds of policy responses do people support?
  • How willing are people to make changes themselves to respond to climate change?

And importantly:

  • Why do people hold these beliefs and support the policies they do?

It’s no doubt there is a wide range of data out there however it’s not always easily accessible or available in one place. Stakeholders and interested individuals need data that is simple to understand and use, so they can take it into account and be responsive when designing and communicating climate initiatives.

That’s why we created the CAST Data Portal. This online space allows users to explore CAST’s survey research on climate attitudes in the UK, China, Brazil and Sweden. It currently hosts public survey data collected in 2020, and will be updated with newer data and findings from our ongoing studies.

The portal covers three areas, that you can explore:

All areas can be explored through data dashboards and key insight summaries.

The dashboards allow users to plot, visualise and download responses to selected survey questions for all respondents or subgroups. By doing this one can identify interesting nuances, for example that people who feel less financially stable are not necessarily less supportive of climate policies. Or that younger people are more worried about climate change than older people in the UK, Sweden and China but not in Brazil, where climate worry is extremely high for all age groups.

Psychological drivers of climate action

It was important to us that the CAST Data Portal reflects the unique character of CAST by focusing on understanding public perception, rather than just mapping it. Therefore we allow users to look at subgroups such as age, gender and financially stability but also offer insights into psychological predictors. Environmental psychology literature and empirical evidence has been exploring what beliefs drive support for climate policies or behavioural intentions to engage in pro-environmental actions. Two established predictors are the so-called environmental identity beliefs[1] and feelings of collective efficacy[2]. Research found that when people feel that the environment and protecting it is an important part of their identity they are more likely to engage in pro-environmental behaviours or support interventions.

The same goes for assumptions about collective action, a strong feeling of collective efficacy describes the feeling that as a group one is capable and likely to achieve an intended goal. In the context of climate change this goal would be that together people can notably reduce emissions and thereby reduce the causes of climate change. This feeling of agency and efficacy is often lacking when people think about global emissions and their own role in this. Therefore considering beliefs around collective action strengthening these positively can be key to encouraging climate action.

We welcome your feedback

The CAST Data Portal provides a window into our data as it emerges, and will give the means to track and understand changes between and within countries across CAST’s lifetime. As we update the portal annually, it will identify how perspectives might change as global and national contexts evolve.

We are excited about the potential of the Data Portal and want it to be useful to you, that’s why we designed it in consultation with a range of stakeholders from policymaking and practice. It’s a first step towards creating a space that makes our data but also other future CAST findings (such as qualitative outputs) more relevant to a wide audience. We encourage you to dive in, explore the dashboards and share with us any thoughts on elements we can improve.

[1] Whitmarsh, L., & O’Neill, S. (2010). Green identity, green living? The role of pro-environmental self-identity in determining consistency across diverse pro-environmental behaviours. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30(3), 305-314.

[2] Jugert, P., Greenaway, K. H., Barth, M., Büchner, R., Eisentraut, S., & Fritsche, I. (2016). Collective efficacy increases pro-environmental intentions through increasing self-efficacy. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 48, 12-23.

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