A major survey by C3W scientists reveals belief in climate change and levels of concern in Wales are now at their highest level for a number of years. The survey also highlights the impact last year’s flooding in wales had upon beliefs about the climate.
At the start of the UK’s Climate Week a new survey conducted by a team from Cardiff and Aberystwyth Universities shows that a clear majority (88%) of the Welsh public believe that the world’s climate is changing. People are also more concerned about climate change and more likely to see their local area as vulnerable to its effects as compared to the last time these questions were asked in 2010.
The research is the first independent nationwide survey of public perceptions of climate change to be conducted in Wales for some years, and while the public back continued efforts to limit the causes of climate change there is also a widespread recognition that action is needed to deal with its consequences. With extreme weather events taking place in the UK and around the world last year, the flooding which hit many parts of Wales during 2012 appears to have played a part in making climate change a more pressing local concern for people. In particular, people who report being affected by flooding are more likely to see climate change as an immediate and important issue for them.
The study reveals:
Beliefs about climate change:
- A large majority of respondents (88%) consider that the world’s climate is changing. This represents a significant increase from the last time the Welsh public were surveyed in 2010, when only 77% were of this view.
- Over a third of respondents (36%) say they are ‘very concerned’ about climate change, and a further 48% say they are ‘fairly concerned’.
Links between flooding experience and beliefs about climate change
- 60% of those surveyed across Wales agree that the recent floods were due in part to climate change, while concern about climate change also increases for people who report some direct personal experience of flooding.
- 74% of a sub-sample of respondents surveyed in the area around Llandre, Ceredigion, which experienced severe flooding last year, consider that Wales is already feeling the effects of climate change, versus only 65% who believe this in the national sample.
Beliefs about responding to the impacts of climate change
- Over half of the respondents (61%) support taking action now to respond to the existing and future effects of climate change. A further fifth (22%) would like to see Wales at least beginning to prepare for the future effects of climate change.
- Although respondents emphasise the importance of responding to the consequences of climate change, a majority (71%) also say that such measures should only be taken alongside continued efforts to address the causes of climate change.
Attitudes to Welsh Government policy and personal behaviour change
- Around three-quarters (76%) of respondents support the Welsh Government’s target of a three percent annual reduction in carbon emissions nationally – while only 8% opposed this aspiration.
- Most respondents (82%) feel a personal responsibility to help address climate change. However, over half (58%) say that it is hard to take action on climate change, and over three-quarters (79%) were of the opinion that most people don’t do much in their own lives to help tackle climate change.
Professor Nick Pidgeon, from Cardiff University’s School of Psychology, who lead the team which carried out the research, explained that:
“Last year was a difficult time for many people in Wales, with serious flooding occurring in several areas of the country. While is not possible to pin the blame for any single event directly on climate change, we do know that in the future we can expect more of exactly this sort of disruption. It is encouraging to see that people in the survey are concerned about how climate change will affect both Wales and the wider world, and express support for a range of actions to address the challenges that this brings.”
The research was funded by the Climate Change Consortium of Wales and the Welsh Government, and was carried out by researchers from the School of Psychology at Cardiff University and the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University, in conjunction with Opinion Research Services in Swansea. The study obtained a representative sample of 1,001 people across Wales in November and December 2012 and took the views of a further 100 people living in the area around Llandre in Ceredigion, which was badly hit by flooding last summer.
The detailed results are being presented and discussed at a meeting at Cardiff University on Monday 4th March to mark the start of UK Climate Week. Follow the link for an electronic version of the report – Capstick, S.B., Pidgeon, N.F., and Whitehead, M.S. (2013). Public perceptions of climate change in Wales: Summary findings of a survey of the Welsh public conducted during November and December 2012.
Press coverage of this story
The Guardian : How extreme weather acts as a catalyst for climate concern
Western Mail : Flooding in Wales fuels worries over impact of climate change
Robert Lloyd PR : Voters in Wales concerned about climate change
News Wales : More people in Wales believe in climate change
The Cardiffian: Survey: 88 per cent of Wales think climate is changing
Talking Climate: Flooding catalyses climate concern in Wales
Endnotes for Editors
- For further information or to arrange an interview with Professor Nick Pidgeon or the other report authors (Dr Stuart Capstick or Professor Mark Whitehead) please contact Victoria Dando at the Cardiff University Press Office: tel. 029 2087 0995, email: dandoV2@cardiff.ac.uk
- The survey was conducted in Wales between 8th November 2012 and 7th December 2012. A nationally representative quota sample of the Welsh population aged 18 years and older (n=1,001) were interviewed by phone by Opinion Research Services. All data for the representative survey sample have been weighted to the known profile of the Welsh population. The data based on the sample of 1,001 are accurate to within +/- 3.10% for a 50% finding (95 times in 100). An additional sample (n=100) of responses was obtained in the area around Llandre in Ceredigion, west Wales, just north of Aberystwyth.