RESIL-RISK: Understanding UK Perceptions of Climate Risk and Resilience

To date there is relatively limited evidence on the relationships between how the UK public perceives the risks posed by climate change and their views on climate adaptation options and risk communication strategies. Our research project (RESIL-RISK) will address this knowledge gap by conducting a nationally representative survey with an additional experimental component. Thereby RESIL-RISK will identify existing support for climate change adaptation strategies and provide insights into the underlying ways in which climate risks come to be perceived, and how people form opinions about how to respond to these risks. In addition to contributing towards the theoretical discussions around climate adaption, our results will also broaden our understanding of how risk communication can be delivered as a climate service, with a particular focus upon supporting future UK Climate Risk Assessments.

In this proposal we focus on the British public as future recipients of climate risk messages and adaptation information. RESIL-RISK will investigate how people currently conceptualise the relationship between climate risks, resilience and adaptation options/policy, as evidence for designing future climate change risk communications. Although many aspects of climate risk perception are now well understood, much of the past research has focused on developing an understanding of supporting more effective mitigation actions (in particular, reduced use of fossil fuel energy) and policy. There is far less systematic evidence on how ordinary citizens might view climate risk adaptation and resilience, and no coherent theoretical account of how these are related to climate risk perceptions.

Outputs from the project

The RESIL-RISK survey results were presented at an event co-hosted by Cardiff University and Climate Outreach on 3 March at the Royal Society in London. The wide-ranging survey examined social attitudes to the risks and impacts of climate change. It suggested the issue was second only to Brexit for the British public, with Britons believing climate change is one of the most important issues facing the country in the next 20 years.
The survey, carried out by a team of researchers from Cardiff University and Climate Outreach, also highlighted rising public concern about storms, flooding and, in particular, heatwaves, and suggested strong support for policies to address these. The presentation of the survey findings was accompanied by a report, British Public Perceptions of Climate Risk, Adaptation Options and Resilience, as well as a briefing for communicators by Climate Outreach on Engaging the public on climate risks and adaptation.

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