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Evidence Week 2021 - the basis of public support for climate policies

We will be participating at Evidence Week 2021 in UK parliament, and we advocate an evidence-based approach to policy formation. Organized by Sense about Science, this event offers the chance for researchers, community groups and parliamentarians to communicate and discuss ideas surrounding science, evidence and policy, helping MPs to gain the tools needed to better scrutinize scientific evidence for policymaking.


Evidence Week 2021 will be taking place in a hybrid manner with an online event from 1 - 5 November on a virtual platform and in person within Parliament on 2 and 3 November.

Climate crisis poses catastrophic risks to the environment and people’s livelihood that many researchers work hard to protect. To address this crisis, the Paris Agreement commits governments to limiting global temperature rise to two degrees, preferably one point five. As its contribution, the UK has enshrined in law the goal of slashing its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. However, implementing strong and effective climate policies cannot be done without broad public support.

As one of the leading publishers of research in environmental science and policy, our briefing at Evidence Week addresses the main factors that influence the public acceptance of climate policies. By examining these factors and others, policy makers will develop a better understanding of the extent to which citizens are likely to support or reject particular climate policies, and how resistance could be addressed. This will enable policy makers to anticipate public responses at an early stage of the policy-design cycle, thereby helping to overcome potential resistance and maximize effective implementation. Our briefing pinpoints specific approaches that policy makers can adopt to help overcome barriers to the successful implementation of climate policies and achieve sustained behavioural change.

Our briefing is based upon research findings published in the international journal Climate Policy, which has recently published several research papers exploring how to design effective climate policies and ensure the public stays on board. What are the recommendations from climate research experts? Some broadly applicable insights include:

  • The public wants to be sure that a policy will be effective. That it will make a difference to the climate.
  • The public wants a policy to be fair. Voters tend to be concerned not only about policy impacts on themselves, but also on low-income or other disadvantaged groups, such as car-dependent rural households.
  • Trust matters. The public is much more likely to accept strong policy – even if costly - if overall trust in government and its institutions is high, or at least if the government is perceived as credible and consistent on the issue in question.
  • To maximize the prospects of public acceptance, policy measures should be accompanied by consistent and positive messaging. Overly catastrophic messages can instead lead to fatalism and inaction. Communicators should make the most of “teachable moments” when the public is likely to be more receptive. The forthcoming COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow is an obvious window of opportunity.
  • Social norms are powerful tools for communicators. If individuals receive the message that support for climate action or pro-environmental behaviour is widespread among their peers, they are more likely to get on board.
Collaboration

Publishing Declares

Publishing Declares is a five-point pledge designed to raise awareness of the sustainability issues most relevant to the publishing industry; to aid the discovery of existing tools and resources and to inspire action that results in sustained behaviour change.

As a founding signatory, we are collaborating with the publishing industry to achieve 5 commitments:

  1. Join the global climate effort to limit warming to 1.5°C by setting ambitious, measurable targets across our own operations and extended supply chain to achieve net zero as soon as possible and by 2050 at the latest.
  2. Protect nature and biodiversity, working with supply chain partners that are resource efficient, use sustainable materials and processes wherever possible in the content we produce, and constantly innovating to make use of new and recycled materials.
  3. Collaborate with our peers, authors, illustrators, supply chain partners, and business partners to translate our climate aspirations and commitments into tangible actions to safeguard our planet for future generations.
  4. Empower our colleagues to become climate literate and support them to bring that knowledge into the work that they do.
  5. Use our expertise, platform, and voice to raise awareness and drive positive climate action wherever we can.

The pledge is the first project in an ongoing scheme of work which will also include a report, carbon calculator and a materials index.