The Impacts of Climate Disinformation on Public Perception

Climate Action Against Disinformation and Conscious Advertising Network have commissioned a unique survey, to produce this report, on the origin and impact of climate misinformation on public perception in different regions of the globe. The study was conducted online with respondents recruited through YouGov’s online panel in Australia, Brazil, India, Germany, the UK and the USA.

The survey covered questions about false statements regarding scientific consensus about climate change, fossil fuel and energy consumption, renewables, energy prices and the cost of living crisis, net-zero transition, climate action, and climate policy (like electric vehicles and heat pumps).

The results of the survey are stark and reflect how prevalent climate disinformation beliefs and narratives are around the world. There is a big gap in public perception and the science on issues as basic as whether climate change exists or whether it is mainly caused by humans. This perception gap weakens the public mandate for climate action and undermines the negotiations to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Here are some of those striking highlights.

  • Large numbers of respondents believe that fossil gas is a climate-friendly energy source, contrary to what climate science shows us about its damaging impacts on the climate. 34% of Australians, 40% of Brazilians, 25% of Germans, 57 % of Indians, and 39 % of US citizens believe that gas is a climate-friendly energy source. Only 14% of the population in the UK believes in this example of disinformation.
  • When the data is combined, between 55% and 85% of the populations surveyed believe at least one of the climate change misinformation statements included in the questionnaire, with the highest share in India and the lowest in the UK

The study was released with the Open Letter stating that “global action is required now to tackle climate misinformation and disinformation.” The letter delegates in COP27 to develop a clear plan for action against climate misinformation and disinformation based on the universal definition of climate disinformation. Prominent climate leaders such as Christiana Figueres, Laurance Tubiana, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal and Bill Hare, and advertising industry leaders & brands such as Sky, Patagonia, The Drum have signed the letter.