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on the elderly? Alternatively, should it be a priority to focus attention on those who are economically active?

policy change and/or to potentially make the collective behavioural changes required.’.

The Working Group further advised that it is also difficult to generalise about likely implications of climate change intervention on GDP, because the determinants of GDP vary so much between countries. Moreover, there is considerable scepticism that GDP is the best metric for monitoring societal well-being. It has been proposed (Stiglitz et al. 2009) that there should be a shift in emphasis from measuring economic production to measuring people’s well-being, distinguishing also between assessment of current well-being and of the sustainability of well-being. However, the over-reliance on GDP as a global benchmark of societal success persists and, as it does not function as a reliable metric for health and well-being, alternative indicators are continuing to be discussed (Whitmee et al. 2015; Graham et al. 2018; Managi and Kumar 2018).

What are the challenges for public engagement? Public perceptions of climate change vary considerably according to location, social circumstances and other factors. Learning about climate change can occur formally through education pathways and informally through the media, personal experience and social interaction (Hopkins 2015; Happer and Philo 2016; a case study on Norway is provided by Ryghaug et al. 2011). Various research studies have identified predictors of attitudes to climate change, for example in Europe, understanding of the anthropogenic cause of climate change is the strongest predictor of climate change risk perceptions (Lee et al. 2015). However, meta-analysis of literature on the correlates of belief in climate change (Hornsey et al. 2016) reveals two broad findings: (1) many ‘intuitively appealing’ variables such as education, subjective knowledge, and experience of extreme weather events, were overshadowed in predictive power by values, ideologies and political orientation61; and (2) climate change beliefs have only a small-moderate effect on the extent to which people are willing to act in climate-friendly ways. From this perspective, a better understanding of what influences beliefs (among the publics and politicians) may help to mobilise and target efforts to intervene on climate change. In this context, as noted previously, carbon labelling of food products with information about total supply chain GHG emissions may help to support behavioural change (Camilleri et al. 2019).

Climate change exacerbates health inequality and economic inequality, and will reduce countries’ abilities to achieve SDGs (WHO Europe 2017b). The SDGs provide a great opportunity to integrate health and sustainability objectives into societal priorities (Whitmee et al. 2015, and see Table 3.4), including the potential impacts of strategies to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (Haines et al. 2017). The achievement of a range of SDGs can be progressed in concert, for example through improved crop yield- and nutrition leading to reduced poverty, the provision of clean energy and sustainable urban development. It is vital to capitalise on this opportunity to monitor indicators relevant to planetary health as part of the work on SDGs, and to report on progress nationally, regionally and worldwide (see Chapter 5). 4.9  Conveying the urgency of the challenges: tackling barriers to implementation There are barriers to implementation of adaptation and mitigation at the individual level, in government and the private sector. According to the most recent Eurobarometer data60, EU citizens are very concerned about climate change: 92% regard it as a serious problem and support action across the EU. In exploring the various socio-political and personal factors involved in forming public attitudes and behaviour about climate change, Happer and Philo (2016) observe, ‘Climate change is a collective action problem and will not be solved without the consent of the public to facilitate

Misperception and misunderstanding, particularly relating to public belief that there is a lack of scientific agreement on whether anthropogenic climate change is happening, may be more detrimental than not being aware of climate change (Hopkins 2015). Manufacturing uncertainty by contesting science has been used by corporate and political interests in earlier public health controversies (e.g. tobacco control (Michaels and Monforton 2005; Nilsson et al. 2009)) and similar tactics of deliberate misinformation have now been applied to create doubt about global warming by deliberate undermining of science through personal attacks on researchers and concerted attempts to mislead the public (Oreskes and Conway 2010). Computational analysis of climate change politics in the USA has demonstrated that polarisation leads to uncertainty and, in some cases, policy stalemate, and that corporate funding influences the production and thematic content


Eurobarometer 2017 on Recent comparisons of the USA, Western Europe and post-communist states (Smith and Mayer 2019) suggest that the political polarisation on whether climate change is harmful is emphasised in Anglophone countries, but this evidence predates the rise in right-wing populism elsewhere. Other recent meta-analysis (van Valkengoed and Steg 2019) indicates that factors motivating climate change behaviour may vary according to the nature of the climate change impact. However, most of this literature has examined motivating factors in response to flooding, storms and wildfires; heatwaves and drought are understudied and no literature was found on motivating factors for climate change adaptive behaviour with regard to vector-borne diseases (van Valkengoed and Steg 2019). 61 


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The imperative of climate action to protect human health in Europe  

Opportunities for adaptation to reduce the impacts and for mitigation to capitalise on the benefits of decarbonisation. The pace and extent...

The imperative of climate action to protect human health in Europe  

Opportunities for adaptation to reduce the impacts and for mitigation to capitalise on the benefits of decarbonisation. The pace and extent...