Flaw in climate change communication caused low literacy level

Allianz’s latest survey on climate literacy revealed that only 8% of respondents have a good level of climate literacy.

The disconnect between emotional climate change communication and the lack of broad scientific understanding impacts policy support and public action, resulting in a low level of climate literacy amongst the population, according to Allianz SE.

A recent study by Allianz revealed that only 8% of respondents have a substantial level of climate literacy, despite widespread concern about climate change. Patricia Pelayo-Romero, Senior Economist for Insurance & ESG at Allianz SE, attributed this gap to the current methods of communicating climate issues.

She explained, “We've been tapping a lot on the emotional part of climate change... but not so much tapping into the expertise and the science in a way that's approachable for the general population.”

Romero said that this approach has led to high levels of concern, particularly among younger populations, but a shortfall in general knowledge about climate change. She identified this as a flaw in communication, where emotional appeals have overshadowed the dissemination of scientific facts and knowledge, leading to low climate literacy.

To bridge this gap, Romero suggested several strategies such as framing climate change as a public health issue is one approach. She also advocates for co-creating materials with the public to enhance engagement and employ social comparison methods to demonstrate best practices and behavior modification.

“Additionally, we could also help with some guidelines as to what the best practices and how people are doing because we find that social comparison also has a lot to do with how people start acting or how they learn how to modify their behavior by social comparison,” she said.

“Fostering distrust in science is something that we should really look into,” she added, emphasizing the need to build trust in scientific expertise over reliance on NGO narratives or other organizations.

The low level of climate literacy has significant implications for public support and understanding of climate policies. Romero pointed out that climate literacy can guide people to comprehend how policies affect the trajectory toward meeting climate targets.

“It would be interesting to see how they vote,” she said, underscoring the importance of politically engaged and informed voting, especially in matters of climate policy.

Romero suggested that effective communication strategies that balance emotional appeal with scientific understanding could lead to more informed public support for climate policies and actions. This shift is essential for progressing toward climate targets and ensuring a sustainable future.

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