Climate change leadership

Climate change needs political leadership. It’s an obvious requirement but a recent survey from the University of Queensland reveals some startling gaps. Out of 300 Australian federal, state and local government political leaders, 70% agreed with the statement that the planet is warming because of human activity producing greenhouse gases.

However, 17% are uncertain if they agreed or not. It raises the question of what awareness is necessary for these leaders to be informed? The survey finds that politicians say scientists are the most influential people when it comes to framing their views. Yet, less than 40% of the politicians agree with the IPCC scientists on global temperature – that a limit of 2 degrees or less of warming is necessary to avoid dangerous climate change.

It’s a global gap. For example in Sweden politicians scored 70% answering questions on climate change. But it’s more than a knowledge gap. We must hear discordant voices, multifarious human beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviours says Mike Hulme investigating climate change disagreements.

In other words knowledge is necessary but not sufficient. Understanding how people interpret this information is important.

As Centre for Research on Environmental Decisions puts it climate change solutions are workable, cost-effective technologies which permit society to improve living standards… Yet scientific, engineering, and organizational solutions are not enough. Societies must be motivated and empowered to adopt the needed changes.

Picture: Centre for Research on Environmental Decisions, The Psychology of Climate Change Communication.