In recent decades, people in the UK have watched climate change shift from being an abstract threat discussed on the news to an increasingly common presence in everyday life. As the frequency and intensity of heatwaves, floods and other extreme weather events has risen, so has public concern about climate change. A 2019 poll found 80% of people were fairly or very worried, while a more recent survey ranked climate change as the most important issue.
People are more engaged with the climate crisis than ever before. But how well do they understand it? And which sources of information do they trust the most? We wanted to understand where the public gets much of its information on the topic and what the most effective ways of keeping people informed are.
We surveyed more than 1,700 adults living in the UK and found that almost half the sample were unable to correctly identify 50% of fake climate change news headlines, and almost half (44%) of all respondents were unaware of how often they encountered misinformation online. These numbers suggest that people need more guidance on how to effectively spot misinformation, and how to find reliable information about climate change.