Trust in climate science and climate scientists: A narrative review


Trust in climate science provides the foundation for evidence-based policymaking on climate change mitigation and adaptation and public perceptions of the urgency of climate change. Here we consider the possibility that lack of public trust in climate science and climate scientists may undermine the effectiveness of climate science communication. To this end, we narratively review three topics of relevance to climate science and climate scientists. 1) The current state of trust; 2) Reasons for distrust; 3) How political engagement affects trust. We then draw on insights from communication and behavioral science to recommend how climate change communicators can become more trustworthy.

In PLoS Climate, 3(5).
Niels G. Mede
Niels G. Mede
Science Communication Researcher

I am a Senior Research and Teaching Associate at the Department of Communication and Media Research (IKMZ) of the University of Zurich, where I also completed a PhD in communication studies. My work focuses on science communication, public opinion, populism, digital media, climate change communication, and survey methodology. In 2022 and 2023, I was a visiting researcher at the Department of Life Sciences Communication of the University of Wisconsin—Madison and the Oxford Internet Institute. In June 2024, I join the Digital Media Research Centre of the Queensland University of Technology as a visiting scholar.