Socioeconomic Roots of Climate Change Denial and Uncertainty among the European Population

  • Lübke C
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Despite the overwhelming scientific consensus, in many Western countries, there appears to be a considerable share of people questioning the existence and anthropogenic cause of climate change. Climate change disbelief includes the absolute rejection of the existence of anthropogenic climate change (climate change denial) as well as a lack of sureness about the anthropogenic cause of climate change (climate change uncertainty). Although considerable research on this phenomenon has been conducted, the roots of climate change disbelief are not yet fully understood. In this article, data from Round 8 of the European Social Survey are used to study the possible socioeconomic roots of climate change disbelief at the individual, regional, and country level. Results show that climate change denial is a marginal phenomenon among European populations but that a great share of people attributes climate change equally to human influences and natural processes. Thereby, it appears that the level of climate change disbelief varies between countries, and even more so between regions within countries. Results of various three-level multilevel models show that socioeconomic factors can partly explain this variation. Individuals who feel insecure about their economic future are significantly more likely to reject the existence of anthropogenic climate change. Furthermore, climate change denial and uncertainty are more common in more rural and less prosperous regions and in countries more economically dependent on fossil fuels. The results contribute to a deeper understanding of climate change disbelief among the European population and have important implications for climate change mitigation efforts.




Lübke, C. (2021). Socioeconomic Roots of Climate Change Denial and Uncertainty among the European Population. European Sociological Review.

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