Climate Scepticism Threatens Sustainable Living in Latvia.
In Latvia, climate scepticism has been growing in recent years – both among the public and among those in power. In parallel with the general increase of misinformation in the public information space, this poses a threat that the Latvian public will ignore climate change and will be less and less willing to change its behaviour. There are also concerns about whether the government will base its decisions regarding climate change on science and legislate for a sustainable future. This is why the Latvian Fund for Nature in its campaign ‘GAME ON! Don’t let climate change end the game’ will call on the people of Latvia to be distinctly aware of the challenges posed by climate change, to trust science when assessing them and to support the move towards climate-neutral lifestyles, businesses and policies.
A study conducted by the project ‘GAME ON: Don’t let climate change end the game’, which covers 8 European countries and compares data from 2021 and 2023, shows that only 16% of people in Latvia currently believe that climate change is the most serious problem humanity is facing now; moreover, this number has decreased in the last two years (24% in 2021). Climate change is also losing ground among young people (18-35 year olds): while in 2021 a quarter of this group considered climate change to be a major problem, now it is 18%. The number of people in Latvia who agree that climate change is a real and global problem has also fallen – from 60% two years ago to 36% now. One third of people in Latvia believe they will not be affected by climate change, compared to an average of 19% in the countries surveyed. The number of people in Latvia who believe that climate change is a natural phenomenon not influenced by humans has also increased, with 57% of respondents saying this.
“There are several explanations for the growing climate scepticism in Latvia. The impact of the war in Ukraine has forced people to change their priorities, and in Latvia, the effects of climate change are relatively gradual and less obvious. However, there is also a growing influence of misinformation and populism, as well as climate change denial among decision-makers, which we see as a particularly dangerous trend. The reality is that the effects of climate change are already observed in Latvia and they will only intensify. We want to remind everyone – climate change is not a matter of faith. It is a scientifically proven fact,” says Baiba Vitajevska-Baltvilka, Environmental Policy Expert at the Latvian Fund for Nature.
During the campaign ‘GAME ON: Don’t let climate change end the game’ until the end of October, the Latvian Fund for Nature will remind everyone about the scientific basis of climate change, its impact on different spheres of human activity, educate about the consequences of climate scepticism, as well as raise the issue of the climate crisis through the prism of art.
LFN is convinced that culture and the arts have great potential to shed light on climate issues. Therefore, an important element of the campaign will be an audiovisual performance by the scenic designer Ieva Stalšene and the artists’ union ‘+K+M+B’ (Kristians Brekte, Modris Svilāns, Māris Butlers). It is based on the artists’ creative reflections on how in the coming decades, climate change will change the tradition and course of the national pride of Latvia – the Song and Dance Festival.
“Having been introduced to data-based projections of the consequences of climate change, my colleagues and I chose to raise the issue of the climate crisis through Latvian traditional culture, which has always been based on harmonious coexistence and the interaction of man and nature; activities where natural phenomena and man go hand in hand. The Song and Dance Festival is also the culmination of these traditions and principles nowadays, so we chose to base our performance on it. We are convinced that everyone who cares about preserving the tradition of the Song and Dance Festival should first of all take care of preserving nature,” says the artist, Ieva Stalšene.
The Art Academy of Latvia is a partner of the Latvian Fund for Nature in the campaign ‘GAME ON: Don’t let climate change end the game’. The campaign is part of the project ‘Game On: Don’t let climate change end the game!’. The project is funded by the EU DEAR (Development Education and Awareness Raising) programme.