back to all publications

Perceptions of Climate Change in China: Evidence From Surveys of Residents in Six Cities

CSS Publication Number
Full Publication Date
November 12, 2021

China has pledged to cap its carbon emission by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, making knowledge about how the Chinese general public understands climate change crucial and timely. This article reports findings from surveys of climate change perceptions in six Chinese cities (∼40 million people). We identify 10 distinct mental images and 37 subcategories that represent a wide spectrum of perceptions of climate change among the Chinese public. The results reveal that people tend to conflate climate change with air pollution and seasonal weather changes. Although skepticism is not prominent, voices for action are also limited. Furthermore, climate change perceptions are heterogenous across regions and demographic groups. Respondents from developed cities are less likely to conflate climate change with local weather. People living in polluted regions tend to equate climate change with air pollution. Well-educated, high-income, and young residents are more aware of the scientific dimensions of climate change and its consequences. Females and the elderly think more about health implications and how to adapt. Compared to Western countries, opinions about climate change in China are less polarized and controversial, probably due to different political realities and media framings. This study provides an updated picture of climate change perceptions among the Chinese general public and recommends targeted and multi-level communication strategies for policymakers.

Miaomiao Liu
Jun Bi
Research Areas
Urban Systems and Built Environment

perception, mental images, skepticism, China, air pollution

Publication Type
Journal Article
Digital Object Identifier
Full Citation

Yang, Jianxun, Dimitrios Gounaridis, Miaomiao Liu, Jun Bi, and Joshua P. Newell. (2021) “Perceptions of climate change in China: Surveys of residents in six cities.” Earth’s Future 9(12): e2021EF002144. CSS21-43