Public opinion about solar radiation management: A cross-cultural study in 20 countries around the world

Nadja Contzen*, Goda Perlaviciute, Linda Steg, Sophie Charlotte Reckels, Susana Alves, David Bidwell, Gisela Böhm, Marino Bonaiuto, Li Fang Chou, Victor Corral-Verdugo, Federica Dessi, Thomas Dietz, Rouven Doran, Maria do Carmo Eulálio, Kelly Fielding, Cristina Gómez-Román, Juliana V. Granskaya, Tatyana Gurikova, Bernardo Hernández, Maira P. KabakovaChieh Yu Lee, Fan Li, Maria Luísa Lima, Lu Liu, Sílvia Luís, Gabriel Muinos, Charles A. Ogunbode, María Victoria Ortiz, Nick Pidgeon, Maria Argüello Pitt, Leila Rahimi, Anastasia Revokatova, Cecilia Reyna, Geertje Schuitema, Rachael Shwom, Nur Soylu Yalcinkaya, Elspeth Spence, Bernadette Sütterlin

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Some argue that complementing climate change mitigation measures with solar radiation management (SRM) might prove a last resort to limit global warming to 1.5 °C. To make a socially responsible decision on whether to use SRM, it is important to consider also public opinion, across the globe and particularly in the Global South, which would face the greatest risks from both global warming and SRM. However, most research on public opinion about SRM stems from the Global North. We report findings from the first large-scale, cross-cultural study on the public opinion about SRM among the general public (N = 2,248) and students (N = 4,583) in 20 countries covering all inhabited continents, including five countries from the Global South and five ‘non-WEIRD’ (i.e. not Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, and Democratic) countries from the Global North. As public awareness of SRM is usually low, we provided participants with information on SRM, including key arguments in favour of and against SRM that appear in the scientific debate. On average, acceptability of SRM was significantly higher in the Global South than in the ‘non-WEIRD’ Global North, while acceptability in the ‘WEIRD’ Global North was in between. However, we found substantial variation within these clusters, especially in the ‘non-WEIRD’ Global North, suggesting that countries do not form homogenous clusters and should thus be considered individually. Moreover, the average participants’ views, while generally neither strong nor polarised, differed from some expert views in important ways, including that participants perceived SRM as only slightly effective in limiting global warming. Still, our data suggests overall a conditional, reluctant acceptance. That is, while on average, people think SRM would have mostly negative consequences, they may still be willing to tolerate it as a potential last resort to fight global warming, particularly if they think SRM has only minor negative (or even positive) impacts on humans and nature.

Original languageEnglish
Article number65
Number of pages25
JournalClimatic Change
Volume177
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2024

Keywords

  • Climate engineering
  • Public opinion
  • Perceived risks
  • Perceived benefits
  • Perceived justice
  • Technology acceptance

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