Publicly expressed climate scepticism is greatest in regions with high CO2 emissions

Samuel Pearson, Matthew J. Hornsey, Saphira Rekker, Belinda Wade, Chris Greig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We analysed a recently released corpus of climate-related tweets to examine the macro-level factors associated with public declarations of climate change scepticism. Analyses of over 2 million geo-located tweets in the U.S. showed that climate scepticism – and the aggressiveness of climate-related tweets – was greater in states with higher per capita carbon emissions. This pattern remained significant after controlling for political conservatism, GDP per capita, education, and gender, and was replicated across 126 nations from around the world. The findings are consistent with a vested interest hypothesis—misinformation around climate change is most likely to be distributed in regions where there is high fossil fuel reliance, and where the economic stakes of acknowledging climate change are high. Understanding the macro-level patterns that are implicated in climate scepticism can help inform structural interventions for those seeking a low-carbon future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number79
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2024
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


  • Climate scepticism
  • Motivated reasoning
  • Twitter
  • Vested interests


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