Climate change perception, vulnerability, and readiness: inter-country variability and emerging patterns in Latin America

Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

Gabriela Azócar (1) * Marco Billi (2,3,4) * Rubén Calvo (2) * Nicolás Huneeus (2,5) * Marta Lagos (6) * Rodolfo Sapiains (2,7) + Anahí Urquiza (2,4,7)

Accepted: 2 October 2020

© AESS 2020


In Latin America, there is scarce comparative research on variables associated with the perception of climate change. This hinders the ability of governments to take mitigation and adaptation measures in the face of the phenomenon, as well as the ability of the population to cope with its effects. In order to fill that void, this research studies the relationship between climate change perception, vulnerability, and readiness in 17 countries of the region. To that end, perception indicators included in the Latinobarómetro 2017 survey are analyzed, contrasted with vulnerability and readiness indexes provided by the University of Notre Dame’s Global Adaptation Index. The analytical strategy includes the statistical description of the variables associated with the perception of climate change in countries of the region, clustering together those countries that display similar behavioral patterns in relation to their vulnerability and readiness indicators, as well as crosstabs with climate change indicators. The key findings indicate that it is possible to identify 3 patterns of behavior regarding the countries’ vulnerability and readiness, which account for high, intermediate, and low levels in those variables. These patterns indicate cross-cutting trends concerning variables such as the level of education and affinity for the market economy, as well as particularities differentiating each country from the rest. The main conclusion is the existence of a negative association between the affinity people express for the market economy and their acknowledgment of climate change as a relevant problem.

Keywords: Climate change perceptions . Vulnerability . Readiness . Latin America . ND-Gain . Latinobarómetro

(1) Department of Social Work, Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Santiago, Chile

(2) Center for Climate and Resilience Research (CR)2, Santiago, Chile

(3) School of Government, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Santiago, Chile

(4) Energy Poverty Network, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile

(5) Faculty of Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile

(6) Latinobarómetro Corporation, Santiago, Chile

(7) Faculty of Social Sciences, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile

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