Public perceptions of climate change in Britain

A report by the Understanding Risk Research Group at Cardiff University explores public perceptions of climate change following a series of severe flooding events in the U.K. during the winter of 2013/2014.


The study looks at the relationship between direct personal experience with extreme weather events (such as winter flooding in particular) and public engagement on climate change.


Climate change perceptions in the U.K.

  • A large majority say they have personally noticed signs of climate change, including extreme weather and flooding.
  • Among those who say their own level of concern has changed over the past year, the primary reasons given relate to perceptions of observable weather phenomena, including floods and heavy rain.

Perceptions of the 2013/2014 flooding

  • A majority of the U.K. public view the floods as having been caused in part by climate change and are seen by most people as a sign of what can be expected in the future from climate change.
  • Many still express caution as to whether there is adequate scientific knowledge to make the connection between flooding and climate change.

The experience of flooding and its influence on climate change perceptions

Compared to the national sample, those who were most directly affected by the floods were:

  • More concerned about climate change
  • More likely to consider climate change a serious threat to themselves and their family
  • More likely to see their local area as vulnerable to climate events
  • More likely to see climate change as an important issue facing the U.K.


Photo via (cc) wikimedia



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