Accepted paper:

Lay people's sense making of climate engineering: a cross-country focus group study


Victoria Wibeck (Department of Thematic Studies - Environmental Change)
Anders Hansson (Linköping University)

Paper short abstract:

The study is based on results from a cross-country study of how lay people make sense of climate engineering. We have conducted 23 focus groups in Japan, New Zealand, USA and Sweden with 136 participants and analyze e.g. climate emergency arguments, risks, trust, agency and governance.

Paper long abstract:

This paper presents preliminary results from a cross-country study of how lay people make sense of climate engineering, i.e. controversial proposals for large-scale, deliberate manipulation of the Earth's climate by technologies for sunlight reflection or carbon dioxide removal from the air. In contrast to earlier focus group studies, which have mostly focused on single countries, this paper presents preliminary results from an ongoing study, where we conducted focus group interviews among lay people in four geographically and culturally diverse countries: Japan, New Zealand, the USA and Sweden. Focus group methodology has proved fruitful for analyzing not only what participants think about different topics, but also how they make sense of unfamiliar, controversial or complex issues. As such, focus groups generate data well suited for sense-making analysis. In total we conducted 23 focus groups with altogether 136 participants. To our knowledge, this is to date the largest focus group study on geoengineering. The paper will discuss varieties and commonalities in sense-making across the focus groups, with regard to e.g. climate emergency arguments, risks, possibilities, trust, agency and governance. We will pay particular attention to sense-making strategies, such as the use of analogies, metaphors and narratives. This analysis will contribute to the STS literature on public engagement with climate engineering, meaning making processes concerning novel technologies and the relation between human, society and nature. The paper is co-authored by A. Hansson, V. Wibeck, J. Anshelm, L. Dilling, R. Hauser, P. Feetham and S. Asayama.

panel T133
Tackling climate change by other means: opening up geoengineering governance