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Public climate-change skepticism, energy preferences and political participation

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Engels, A., Huether, O., Schaefer, M., & Held, H. (2013). Public climate-change skepticism, energy preferences and political participation. Global environmental change-human and policy dimensions, 23(5), 1018-1027. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.05.008.

Many studies have shown a general decline of public concern about climate change or vice versa a rise in public climate-change skepticism, in particular in the U.S. and other Anglo-Saxon countries. There is a vivid debate on whether this is a global phenomenon, on which factors explain the decline, and on the broader societal implications of these trends in the context of the transformation toward a low-carbon society. We add to this literature by presenting the results of a recent general population survey in Germany in which we looked for systematic linkages between public climate-change skepticism on one hand, and energy preferences and political participation on the other. Germany is an interesting testbed as it is currently involved in a large-scale restructuring of its system of energy supply toward renewable energy sources (the "Energiewende"). Our results indicate that climate-change skepticism has not diffused widely in Germany, but that it correlates with less support of renewable energy sources. However, skepticism correlates negatively with political participation, and there is no strong political outlet for public climate-change skepticism in Germany. Alternative potential barriers for the successful implementation of the "Energiewende" are also discussed. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.