Public perception of climate engineering in Japan: Results from online and classroom surveys

Masahiro Sugiyama
Assistant Professor, Policy Alternatives Research Institute, the University of Tokyo

Masatomo Fujiwara
Associate Professor, Faculty of Environmental Earth Science, Hokkaido University


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Despite the global reach of climate engineering, previous studies on perception of this technology were mostly limited to the Western countries. Here, we present the results of an online survey conducted in March, 2011, in Japan. Each of approximately 4000 respondents read a short article, which was randomly chosen from four kinds prepared with slightly different framings. Common across respondent groups with different articles were cautious attitudes toward the deployment of stratospheric aerosol injection and strong support of research. The high level of support for research can be explained by trust in university researchers and international organizations. Two follow-up classroom surveys (conducted in 2012 and 2014) showed that university students, who learned more about the technique’s limitations in a short lecture, also expressed endorsement for investigation. Nevertheless, in one survey where indoor research was distinguished from outdoor studies, the overall support level decreased, with the former preferred to the latter. Our results only capture a snapshot of the public perception, which will change along with the public debate on climate engineering research.