SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA ›› 2012, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (12): 1481-1487.doi: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2012.012.1481

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Public Perception of Climate Change and Their Support of Climate Policy in China: Based on Global Surveys and in Comparison with USA

Gen-ying CHANG(), Fu-peng HUANG, Man LI, Guo-jing LI   

  1. Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental (Ministry of Education), Research School of Arid Environment & Climate Change, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China
  • Received:2011-12-05 Revised:2012-06-18 Online:2012-12-20 Published:2012-12-20


Public opinion on climate change influences greenhouse gas emission of individuals and households and their support of climate policy. Based on five global surveys (Pew Global Attitudes Project Survey 2006, BBC World Service 2007, World Public Opinion 2009, BBC World Service and GlobeScan 2009, and World Bank 2009), this article compared public opinion on climate change and support for climate policy between China and USA. Surveys showed that about four-fifth of Chinese respondents heard about climate change and believed that human activity was a significant cause of climate change, whereas more American respondents heard about climate change and less believed that human activity was a significant cause of climate change. About two-thirds of Chinese respondents thought that climate change has already affected our life, whereas only one-third of American respondents held this view. If no actions are taken to mitigate climate change, more than four-fifths of Chinese respondents believed that future climate change will have significant, negative influences on the likelihood of natural disasters, rainfall and available water resources and the types of food, whereas American respondents had a more positive perception. Chinese respondents had greater worry about climate change than American ones, and 70% of Chinese respondents supported urgent actions to limit emission of greenhouse gases, including change in individual life style and behavior, acceptance of higher energy costs, preserving or expanding forested areas, gradual increase in fuel efficiency of automobiles and gradual reduce of government subsidies that favor private transportation, whereas less American respondents supported such actions. 90% of Chinese respondents thought that the central government should place a high priority on addressing climate change, whereas less than 50% of American respondents held this view, and more than two-thirds of both Chinese and American respondents took the view that both rich and poor countries should take measures to address climate change. Finally, future studies were discussed.

Key words: public opinion on climate change, support of climate policy, questionnaire survey, China versus USA

CLC Number: 

  • X24