A survey conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) reveals that public support for action on climate change is strengthened by just ten minutes of exposure to the basic science.

In the study, a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults undertook a short online climate quiz. The multiple-choice quiz covered the basic causes of climate change, its impacts and how behaviours affect it. Half the sample (selected at random) were shown the correct answers, while the other half were not, with those who saw the answers stating a higher support for change.

After seeing the answers to the quiz, the number of people who believed a carbon tax would be effective at changing behaviour went up by 25 per cent. Seeing the answers also boosted people’s intentions to engage in high-impact pro-environmental actions, such as taking fewer flights, retrofitting their home or reducing meat intake. However, this effect was smaller than the effect on support for stronger climate mitigation policy.

The study is also the first to measure public comprehension of climate change in Ireland, with 90 per cent of people aware that climate change is caused by human activity – high by international standards. It also highlighted gaps in knowledge such as underestimating Ireland’s per person emissions compared to the rest of the EU, and underestimating the impacts of switching to a plant-based diet.

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