A Climate Change Information Framework for Behaviour Change: Applications to UK Travel

By Candice Howarth.

Published by The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The urgency of climate change is communicated profusely across governments, decision makers, scientific and research communities. In countries such as the UK, where the future impacts of climate change are hard to perceive, action does not reflect this urgency. Consequently there is a need for a tailored approach in terms of climate change communication, from information content and dissemination, audience targeting and considerations affecting its reception to maximise its impact on action. This paper addresses how climate change information can influence action by investigating opportunities for changes in travel behaviour. It presents results from a questionnaire survey of 903 householders and five focus group discussions conducted in Hampshire, South East UK, on the use of climate change messaging for behaviour change. It identifies three distinct awareness groups based on levels of understanding of the causes of climate change (‘Human activities’, ‘Unsure’ and ‘Non-human’) and demonstrates that individuals aged less than 25 years old and over 55 show a stronger likelihood of being unsure of the causes of climate change or thinking this is not related to human activities. In addition to identifying audiences to target, barriers to change are identified: low willingness to engage in sustainable travel behaviour was found to result from a perception that climate change is too forbidding to be tackled on a personal level. However environmental information was found to be a positive reinforcer of future behaviour rather than a direct driver of change. The paper concludes by presenting a framework on how to best deliver climate change information to influence lifestyle changes by clearly designing the information around behaviour, audience, messenger, content and delivery tools. It suggests that climate change information can be used directly to address perceived barriers to behaviour change and increase intention to change behaviours. Moving away from current models of linear and one-dimensional dissemination of climate information, the framework can be used for multiple audiences and behaviours allowing for comparison, monitoring, evaluation and transferability of results.

Keywords: Climate change communication, Behavior Change, Framework

International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.55-75. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 456.135KB).

Dr. Candice Howarth

Senior Research Fellow, Global Sustainability Institute, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK

Candice Howarth is a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Sustainability Institute (GSI) at Anglia Ruskin University (UK) where she leads the Climate Action and Cultural Systems research theme. She conducts research on climate communication and scepticism as well as perceptions of impacts of climate risks, science, impacts and solutions and the links with behaviour change and decision making. She has a BSc in meteorology, an MSc in climate change and a PhD in sustainable communication and behaviour change.

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