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The publics’ concern for global warming: A cross-national study of 47 countries


  • Berit Kvaløy

    () (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

  • Henning Finseraas

    (Norwegian Social Research)

  • Ola Listhaug

    (Norwegian University of Science and Technology & Centre for the Study of Civil War, PRIO)


This article relies on data from the 2005–09 World Values Survey to examine individual and cross-national variation in perception of the seriousness of global warming. The data show that a large majority of the public in all countries are concerned about the problem of global warming and that this assessment is part of a broader concern for global environmental issues. The widespread concern implies that global warming has the potential to generate mass political participation and demand for political action. Motivated by a value-based approach to the study of public opinion, the article shows that perception of the seriousness of the problem is positively correlated with high education, post-materialism, and a leftist position on the left–right scale. In addition, religious beliefs are important, suggesting that there is some diversity in the value basis for the issue and that it is not only linked to the ‘new-politics’ perspective. Variation across nations in wealth and CO2 emissions is not significantly related to the publics’ assessments of the problem, and, somewhat counterintuitively, people from countries relatively more exposed to climate-related natural disasters are less concerned about global warming. We suggest possible explanations for the latter finding and discuss our results in relation to the broader literature on environmental change, insecurity, and the potential for conflict.

Suggested Citation

  • Berit Kvaløy & Henning Finseraas & Ola Listhaug, 2012. "The publics’ concern for global warming: A cross-national study of 47 countries," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 49(1), pages 11-22, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:49:y:2012:i:1:p:11-22

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Chankrajang, Thanyaporn & Muttarak, Raya, 2017. "Green Returns to Education: Does Schooling Contribute to Pro-Environmental Behaviours? Evidence from Thailand," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 434-448.
    2. Mohamed M. Mostafa, 2016. "Post-materialism, Religiosity, Political Orientation, Locus of Control and Concern for Global Warming: A Multilevel Analysis Across 40 Nations," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(3), pages 1273-1298, September.
    3. Björn Kauder & Niklas Potrafke & Heinrich Ursprung, 2016. "Behavioral Determinants of Proclaimed Support for Environment Protection Policies," CESifo Working Paper Series 5993, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Christopher Wratil, 2015. "Democratic Responsiveness in the European Union: the Case of the Council," LEQS – LSE 'Europe in Question' Discussion Paper Series 94, European Institute, LSE.
    5. Todd A. Eisenstadt & Karleen Jones West, 2017. "Indigenous Belief Systems, Science, and Resource Extraction: Climate Change Attitudes in Ecuador," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 17(1), pages 40-58, February.
    6. Alex Lo & Alex Chow, 2015. "The relationship between climate change concern and national wealth," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 131(2), pages 335-348, July.


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