Making sense of climate engineering: a focus group study of lay publics in four countries

Victoria Wibeck, Anders Hansson, Jonas Anshelm, Shinichiro Asayama, Lisa Dilling, Pamela M. Feetham, Rachel Hauser, Atsushi Ishii, Masahiro Sugiyama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


This study explores sense-making about climate engineering among lay focus group participants in Japan, New Zealand, the USA and Sweden. In total, 23 qualitative focus group interviews of 136 participants were conducted. The analyses considered sense-making strategies and heuristics among the focus group participants and identified commonalities and variations in the data, exploring participants’ initial and spontaneous reactions to climate engineering and to several recurrent arguments that feature in scientific and public debate (e.g. climate emergency). We found that, despite this study’s wide geographical scope, heterogeneous focus group compositions, and the use of different moderators, common themes emerged. Participants made sense of climate engineering in similar ways, for example, through context-dependent analogies and metaphorical descriptions. With few exceptions, participants largely expressed negative views of large-scale deliberate intervention in climate systems as a means to address anthropogenic global warming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Nov 1


  • Analogies
  • Analysis
  • Climate engineering
  • Cross-country
  • Focus group
  • Geoengineering
  • Metaphors
  • Sense-making


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