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Survey shows Norwegians believe in science

klimaopinion i norge (Ingressbilde)

The cold winter has not affected Norwegians’ belief that climate change is man-made. However, the issue is no longer seen as quite so urgent in people’s minds, according to the latest results of the TNS Gallup Climate Barometer.

The TNS Gallup Climate Barometer is a syndicated study of opinions on climate and energy issues. The first survey made was in spring 2009. This is the third round. For more details, see www.tns-gallup.no

Research and development is given high priority on a list of climate-related measures. Seventy per cent of Norwegians believe that climate change is man-made, only slightly down from 74% last autumn.

However, the survey shows that people’s confidence in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has suffered a jolt since last autumn.

“Thirty-nine per cent of the respondents state that their trust in the IPCC has been weakened as a result of reports of errors in IPCC publications,” said Daniel Rees, project manager for the Climate Barometer, in his presentation of the survey.

The Climate Barometer started in 2009, and has so far published two reports, one last autumn and one this spring. A representative sample of 1160 Norwegians have answered the latest survey.

Project manager for the Climate Barometer, Daniel Rees, in his presentation of the survey.Photo: John Petter Reinertsen/ Samfoto
Project manager for the Climate Barometer, Daniel Rees, in his presentation of the survey.


Less concern about climate change
The survey asks respondents to choose the three most important issues from a list, and this time climate change is ranked only sixth.

“This is partly because many Norwegians do not believe that the impacts will be all that serious in Norway,” said Mr Rees.

Other explanations of the declining importance of climate change in people’s minds may be the unusually cold Norwegian winter, the negative coverage the IPCC has received recently, and the failure of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference to reach an agreement, according to Mr Rees.

Call for

renewable energy

When asked which climate measures should be given priority, the respondents show a good deal of faith in technological solutions. Promoting the expansion of
renewable energy
is ranked highest, and research and development on new climate friendly technology comes second.

Many people feel that Norway is doing too little to develop
renewable energy
sources – 73% of the respondents, a significant increase from 59% in spring 2009.

Confidence in science “The survey shows that people have confidence in science,” said Director Kirsten Broch Mathisen of the Research Council of Norway during the panel debate that followed Mr Rees’ presentation.

“Research can make an important contribution towards achieving our goals for reducing CO2 emissions,” she added.

Offshore wind power is ranked as the most important area of research by 38% of the respondents. Only 11% say Norway should give priority to research into gas power with carbon capture and storage.

“We need to do two things at the same time,” said Broch Mathisen.

“We need to learn more about climate change and what is likely to happen at local level, and at the same time conduct research into new solutions such as wind farms and carbon capture and storage systems,” she stated.

Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik SolheimPhoto: John Petter Reinertsen/ Samfoto
Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim
Linking climate change to people’s lives
“One interesting result of the survey is that although there is no change at all when it comes to the belief that climate change is man-made, it is still not the top priority on people’s agenda,” said Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim in his address to the public.

He discussed some of the challenges involved in persuading the public to show more interest in the climate issue.

“Among other things, we need tools that people can use in their own lives,” said Mr Solheim.
We must link people’s lives with the broad political agenda, was one of his main messages.

People want more from politicians
According to the survey, 60% of the respondents think that politicians are doing far too little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. When asked to comment on this, Mr Solheim answered, “That’s good, people should demand more from politicians. But it is still a problem that both people and political parties are generally in favour of doing more, but often opposed to what actually needs to be done.”

Norway can play a role
Professor David Barber, Director of the Centre for Earth Observation Science (CEOS) at the University of Manitoba was also on the panel. He commented on the fact that Norwegians would like to see more action on climate change.

“I think there is a more sensitivity to these issues in Europe than what we see in North America,” said Mr Barber. His advice to politicians was to make use of their researchers, and listen to what they say.

“I think Norway can play an important role internationally,” was his concluding remark.

Last updated: 12.06.2010