Exploring cross-national public support for the use of enhanced weathering as a land-based carbon dioxide removal strategy
Elspeth Spence, Emily Cox & Nick Pidgeon
This study explores how public attitudes across three countries influence support towards terrestrial enhanced weathering, whereby silicate minerals are applied to agricultural land to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. An online survey was administered in Australia (N = 1000), the UK (N = 1000), and the USA (N = 1026) where there are ongoing field trials of this technique. Findings are similar across all three countries with many participants unfamiliar with enhanced weathering and unsure about supporting the use of enhanced weathering. Results show that positive affect is the main predictor for support of this technique, along with perceived benefits and level of concern about climate change. Open-ended questions asking why respondents would or would not support the use of enhanced weathering elicit mainly affective concepts, with enhanced weathering seen by individual respondents as either something mainly positive or mainly negative, with others saying it sounds risky and/or would have impacts on the environment. The way in which enhanced weathering is communicated is likely to influence support of the use of this strategy so must be undertaken carefully. Overall, our findings show that it is imperative to continue to engage the public, thereby allowing their views to be incorporated as enhanced weathering technology develops over time.