A report has laid bare how climate disinformation still has a powerful hold on the minds of people across the world.
Fossil fuel companies and their supporters in the media are pumping out false and misleading information that aims to erode trust in climate science, according to an international survey by the Climate Action Against Disinformation and the Conscious Advertising Network.
In the United Kingdom, the belief that a significant number of scientists disagree on the cause of the climate crisis was held by 29 per cent of respondents and just 54 per cent believe that climate change is mainly caused by human activity.
Just under a third believe that oil and gas are essential components of the UK national economy and it would be impossible for us to do without them.
And more than a quarter maintain the erroneous belief that solar and wind energy can only be generated when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.
The researchers said: “The results of the survey are stark and reflect how prevalent climate disinformation beliefs and narratives are around the world.
“There is a big gap in public perception and the science on issues as basic as whether climate change exists or whether it is mainly caused by humans.
“This perception gap weakens the public mandate for climate action and undermines the negotiations to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.”
Globally, between 6 per cent and 23 per cent of the populations of the countries covered in the report do not believe in climate change or are uncertain about whether climate change is happening.
A further 22 per cent to 38 per cent believe that humans are only partly responsible for the change in climate, with Americans the most likely to hold this belief.
A total of 20 per cent believe that “the climate has always changed, global warming is a natural phenomenon and is not a direct result of human activity”. Populations in the US and Australia are most likely to hold this belief.