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CSIRO Takes Kitchen Table Climate Change Talk Global

CSIRO research shows that people are more willing to accept new energy generation technologies and make positive changes when they have access to information. Image credit - CSIRO
by Staff Writers
Canberra, Australia (SPX) Mar 14, 2009
CSIRO research into community attitudes towards climate change and energy will take to the world stage today at the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change in Copenhagen.

The social research program is an initiative of the CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship. It began with three citizens' panels and other small group workshops and is now reaching out across the kitchen tables of Australian homes.

The program now includes a number of large scale projects that examine the opinions and behaviours of community members in relation to climate change, energy technologies and the challenges people face when trying to reduce their carbon footprint and energy consumption.

CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship social researcher, Peta Ashworth, will join delegates from China, Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States to present her findings at the congress.

"Our social research team has spent countless hours with community groups over the past four years and found that people at a grass roots level are very interested in climate change and understand the urgency needed to address the issue," Ms Ashworth said.

"Participants show a willingness to make changes in their own homes and workplaces to combat climate change and they express a strong desire for government and industry to take the lead and tackle this serious challenge."

Ms Ashworth and her team found that education and information sharing was critical to the level of interest and commitment community members showed towards climate change and energy generation issues.

"People want to be properly informed and be able to make the connection between what they're doing and the positive impact it's having when it comes to climate change. The more people know, the more willing they are to accept new technologies and make positive changes," she said.

"For example, it's evident from our research that people have a strong preference towards solar energy and emerging technologies like geothermal and many people expressed a willingness to pay more for power to support the continued development and implementation of these technologies."

This social research is an important part of CSIRO's broader work into low emission energy technologies.

"Much of the effort to address climate change will be led by industry and government but energy users at the community level will also play a critical role so it is important that we educate and empower them to engage with this issue and work towards environmental sustainability," Ms Ashworth said.

"We need to research and develop new energy technologies but if they're not going to be accepted by people then we've missed the mark.

"Being able to present this research in an international forum that will feed into the United Nations Climate Change Conference later this year is a wonderful opportunity.

"CSIRO's energy and climate change social research program has grown significantly and delivered plenty of positive outcomes so I hope to see a similar impact world wide."

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Gore optimistic for new climate deal in Copenhagen
London (AFP) March 14, 2009
Former US vice president Al Gore said Saturday he was optimistic that a global deal to combat climate change would be agreed at a summit in December.

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