Public Understanding of Climate Physics: CO2 Accumulation & Earth's Energy Balance
Research Project, 2019

In response to the need for increased efforts to limit climate change, Chalmers University of Technology (CTH) has taken the lead in the development and adoption of a “climate framework” together with 35 other Swedish universities. This framework is meant to facilitate efforts towards the ambitious goal of 1.5 degrees global warming mentioned in the Paris Agreement. A press release issued today about this work emphasize the need for a rapid transition of the whole global economy and of academia’s responsibility to “utbilda medborgare och ledare som ska genomföra denna omställning”. This proposed project aims to contribute to these goals by boosting ongoing work in a research program on public understanding of climate physics and development of educational material. For this project, we focus on public understanding of CO 2 accumulation and
the Earth’s energy balance. A prerequisite for the transition of the energy system to become compatible with the Paris agreement is the ability of the general public and of policy makers to understand a number of key pieces of climate physics. The last three decades have shown that it is not enough for people and policy makers to simply trust climate experts. In the current period of distrust in authorities and in science itself, it is unfortunately too easy for lobbyists to question scientific evidence. Speaking in the language of the SDGs, we believe that the attainment of climate action goals (SDG13) is contingent on quality education (SDG4) to pave the way for social acceptance of the required policies. If Chalmers and other universities’ efforts to educate and communicate climate science
knowledge is to be successful it must be based on a sound understanding of the public’s understanding of climate physics.


Erik Sterner (contact)

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

Tom Adawi

Chalmers, Communication and Learning in Science, Engineering Education Research - EER (Chalmers)

Ulrika Lundqvist

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

Martin Persson

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Physical Resource Theory



Funding Chalmers participation during 2019–

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