Cross-national surveys on public awareness of NETPs

The urgency of climate targets propels the development of negative emission technologies and practices (NETPs), as supplementary measures to emissions reduction. These solutions play a critical role in removing historical and lingering emissions, thus furthering our progress towards net-zero goals. NETPs, however, require public support for widespread adoption and successful implementation.  

A recent study by Chieh-Yu Lee, Goda Perlaviciute, Linda Steg at University of Groeningen addressed the critical need to investigate public acceptance of NETPs. Factors influencing acceptance—including perceived impacts, fairness, responsibility, and national capacity- were assessed. In particular, the study focused on Afforestation and Reforestation (AR) as a nature-based solution, and Direct Air Capture with Carbon Storage (DACCS) as a technology-based. 

For the study the researchers hired a market research firm to conduct a comprehensive online survey across six European nations: Germany, Spain, Finland, Lithuania, The Netherlands, and Poland. The study included roughly 1,000 participants from each country, ensuring balanced representation across age, gender, education, and geographic region.  

 Key results  

AR vs. DACCS: Across all surveyed nations, respondents consistently viewed Afforestation/Reforestation (AR) as more acceptable than Direct Air Capture with Carbon Storage (DACCS). Perceptions of positive consequences for nature, future generations, climate mitigation, and broader environmental impacts heavily favored AR, although respondents were neutral about DACCS, with no large division between opponents or supporters. The more positively people evaluated the consequences of AR and DACCS, the more acceptable theyfound these NETPs. 

Fairness, Responsibility, and Capacity: Acceptability is tightly linked to perceived fairness, which rests on a country’s CO2 emissions history and implementation capacity (knowledge and resources). Countries with high emissions and strong capacity were seen as having a greater responsibility and thus the fairness of implementing NETPs within their borders was viewed favorably. 

National Implementation: When it comes to the participants’ own country, they again found it more acceptable and fairer to implement AR compared to DACCS. Historical emissions generally outweighed reduction efforts when judging if NETP deployment within one’s own country was viewed as fair and acceptable. 

Public Engagement: Respondents strongly expressed the need for the involvement of citizens in NETP development. This includes being informed, having a voice in the process, and sharing decision-making power with experts and governments. 

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