Seminar: Politics of Public Knowledge on Climate Change
Public belief in human-made climate change is an important precondition for achieving ambitious climate policy. However, despite the consensus on anthropogenic climate change within the scientific community, popular belief in the human causes of global warming varies substantially across countries: between 2008 and 2010, only 7% of the population in Liberia believed in anthropogenic climate change, compared to 48% in the United States and 86% in Japan. Even today, polls suggest that almost half of the population in European and North American countries still does not believe greenhouse emissions to be the main cause of global warming.
In this seminar, I briefly present the available descriptive data on the state of public knowledge of human-made climate change worldwide and summarize the literature on the linkage between public knowledge and climate change policy. Afterwards, I present the current results of my quantitative and qualitative empirical research in which I seek to identify the political and economic condition that influence public belief in human-made climate change. On the one hand, I have conducted a cross-national regression analysis in which I test to which degree existing explanations from the literature can explain variation in the belief in human-made climate change across 139 countries. On the other hand, I also present qualitative insights collected in a series of interviews with civil society, media, unions and other relevant actors here in South Africa. The results of both analyses suggest that democracy is an important driver for public belief, whereas carbon intensity represents an obstacle. Moreover, the state of economy, the presence of other types of pollution and the experience of already existing climate change impacts further mediate public belief in anthropogenic climate change.
Sebastian Levi is a PhD candidate at Freie Universeit Berlin (FU) and a visiting researcher Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) in Berlin and at Human Science Research Council (HSRC) in Pretoria. He has studied Political Science at FU Berlin and International Relations at University of Oxford. His research mainly focuses on the politics of contested knowledge in global economic and environmental policy issues.
Fri, 07 Dec 2018 -
12:30 to 13:30
Large Seminar Room, Energy Research Centre, Menzies Building, Upper Campus, UCT