The Science and Technology Select Committee is seeking submissions of evidence for an inquiry into the public perception of climate change

Climate change public perception inquiry announced

A parliamentary committee has launched an inquiry into the public understanding of climate change.

A parliamentary committee has launched an inquiry into the public understanding of climate change.

The Science and Technology Select Committee has agreed to hold an inquiry into what the public understand about climate, where people look for their information and how that may impact climate change policy, and is seeking submissions of evidence.

In July 2011 The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ Foresight programme’s report into the International Dimensions of Climate Change stated that polling had indicated that scepticism about climate change had increased, alongside diminished concern for its effects.

The report found that while 81 per cent of surveyed UK citizens were fairly or very concerns about climate change in 2006 by 2009 only 76 per cent were in an identical tracking survey.

The report cautioned: “Should scepticism continue to increase, democratic governments are likely to find it harder to convince voters to support costly environmental policies aimed at mitigation of, or adaptation to, climate change.”

In the Science and Technology Select Committee’s report “Devil’s bargain? Energy risks and the public” earlier this year they concluded that “more could be done to improve risk communication of scientific matters in the media”.

The committee now wants to receive written submissions on the following issues:

- What is the current state of public understanding of what is meant by climate change? How has this changed in recent years?

- Which voices are trusted in public discourse on climate science and policy? What role should Government Departments, scientific advisers to Government and publicly funded scientists have in communicating climate science?

- How could public understanding of what is meant by climate change be improved? What are the main barriers to this? Does the media have a positive role to play?

- How important is public understanding in developing effective climate change policy?

- What evidence is there that public attitude to climate science affects their engagement with energy policies or initiatives?

- Does the Government have sufficient expertise in social and behavioural sciences to understand the relationship between public understanding of climate science and the feasibility of relevant public policies?

- Can lessons about public engagement with climate change policy be learned from other countries?

To learn more about contributing to the inquiry visit:

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