Exposure to the IPCC special report on 1.5 °C global warming is linked to perceived threat and increased concern about climate change

Abstract

This article investigates the influence of exposure to the IPCC special report on 1.5 °C global warming on climate change attitudes. Among a nationally representative sample of the Norwegian public, we found that exposure to the report is associated with greater perceived threat from climate change and increased climate change concern. However, this association was modestly moderated by political orientation. Exposure to the report had a weaker association with perceived threat and climate change concern among politically right-leaning individuals, compared with their left-leaning counterparts, and there was no association between exposure to the report and climate change concern among individuals who self-identified as being on the far-right end of the political spectrum. We conclude that, despite the commonly observed tendency for biased assimilation of climate change information and polarisation of opinion among the public, scientific communication regarding climate risks may still have a viable role to play in promoting climate change engagement and action.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    This may have been partly due to the timing of the report launch (2 am UK time); see https://twitter.com/LeoHickman/status/1049169116546961409.

  2. 2.

    Self-reported levels of climate change concern in Wave 11 for respondents exposed to the IPCC special report (M = 3.10, SD = 0.94) and those who had not encountered the report (M = 2.87, SD = 0.98) were not significantly different (t(518) = -1.96, p = 0.051). This supports the internal validity of our longitudinal analysis.

  3. 3.

    A detailed report of the conditional effects of exposure to the IPCC special report on perceived threat and concern at the different percentiles of political orientation scores is available as supplementary data (Table S2).

  4. 4.

    The was no significant correlation between climate change concern in Wave 11 and self-reported exposure to the IPCC special report in Wave 14 among the longitudinal sample (r = 0.03, p = 0.451).

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Ogunbode, C.A., Doran, R. & Böhm, G. Exposure to the IPCC special report on 1.5 °C global warming is linked to perceived threat and increased concern about climate change. Climatic Change 158, 361–375 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-019-02609-0

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Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Risk communication
  • Concern
  • Norway