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Lost in translation? Interpretations of the probability phrases used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in China and the UK

Harris, AJL; Corner, A; Xu, J; Du, X; (2013) Lost in translation? Interpretations of the probability phrases used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in China and the UK. Climatic Change , 121 (2) 415- 425. 10.1007/s10584-013-0975-1. Green open access

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Abstract

Tackling climate change is a global challenge and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the organisation charged with communicating the risks, dangers and mechanisms underlying climate change to both policy makers and the general public. The IPCC has traditionally used words (e.g., ‘likely’) in place of numbers (‘70% chance’) to communicate risk and uncertainty information. The IPCC assessment reports have been published in six languages, but the consistency of the interpretation of these words cross-culturally has yet to be investigated. In two studies, we find considerable variation in the interpretation of the IPCC’s probability expressions between the Chinese and British public. Whilst British interpretations differ somewhat from the IPCC’s prescriptions, Chinese interpretations differ to a much greater degree and show more variation. These results add weight to continuing calls for the IPCC to make greater use of numbers in its forecasts.

Type: Article
Title: Lost in translation? Interpretations of the probability phrases used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in China and the UK
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s10584-013-0975-1
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10584-013-0975-1
Language: English
Additional information: This is the author's accepted version of this published article.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1408020
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