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Is public awareness and perceived threat of climate change associated with governmental mitigation targets?

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 19:28 authored by Drummond, A, Hall, LC, James SauerJames Sauer, Matthew PalmerMatthew Palmer
Social scientists and science communicators are concerned about the apparent discrepancy between the scientific consensus on climate change (Anderegg et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci 107:12107–12109, 2010; Doran and Zimmerman EOS Trans Am Geophys Union 90:22–3, 2009) and the general public’s views (Knight Environ Sociol 2:101–113, 2016; Lee et al. Nat Clim Chang 5:1014–1020, 2015). It is reasoned that increased public awareness and perceived threat of climate change may pressure governments to enact policy to counteract climate change (e.g. setting stringent carbon emissions targets). Despite a logical link between public awareness and government-set emissions targets, this relationship remains untested. We examined the relationship between public awareness about and perceived threat of climate change and governmental emissions targets across 71 countries and 1 region. We found a positive association between the proportions of a country’s population that are aware of climate change and the unconditional emissions reduction targets set by that country in the Paris Agreement (Rogelj et al. Nature 534:631–639, 2016). However, the proportion of people in a country who perceive climate change as a personal threat was not associated with higher emissions reduction targets. Our results suggest that public awareness may be an important part of garnering the public support required for policies designed to mitigate climate change to succeed.


Publication title

Climatic Change








School of Psychological Sciences


Kluwer Academic Publ

Place of publication

Van Godewijckstraat 30, Dordrecht, Netherlands, 3311 Gz

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Copyright 2018 Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature

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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in psychology

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