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Reorienting climate change communication for effective mitigation: forcing people to be green or fostering grass-roots engagement? Dr David Ockwell July 2008. Overview. The problem: A climate of urgency The public: Where does behaviour change come in to this?

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Slide1 l.jpg


Overview l.jpg
Overview mitigation: forcing people to be green or fostering grass-roots engagement?

  • The problem:

  • A climate of urgency

  • The public:

  • Where does behaviour change come in to this?

  • Current communication efforts

  • Fostering voluntary action

  • Forcing people to be green:

  • Regulating behaviour

  • The politics:

  • Why aren’t politicians regulating behaviour?

  • Implications:

  • A middle way for climate communication


The problem l.jpg

The problem mitigation: forcing people to be green or fostering grass-roots engagement?


Climate change l.jpg
Climate change mitigation: forcing people to be green or fostering grass-roots engagement?

  • EU 2oC target to avoid dangerous climate change

  • Stern Review 2007

    • Stabilisation at 500–550ppm CO2e

  • UK Climate Change Bill 60% reduction by 2050 - based on RCEP (2000) 550ppm CO2 target

    • cited Met Office data suggesting 550ppm CO2 = 2.3oC by 2100

  • IPCC 2007?


Global mean surface temperature increase above pre industrial levels ipcc wg1 2007 p 66 l.jpg
Global mean surface temperature increase above pre-industrial levelsIPCC WG1 (2007) p 66.


The public l.jpg

The public pre-industrial levels


2005 uk carbon emissions by end user defra aea 2006 l.jpg
2005 pre-industrial levelsUK carbon emissions by end userDefra / AEA 2006


2005 uk carbon emissions by end user based on defra aea 2006 l.jpg
2005 pre-industrial levelsUK carbon emissions by end userBased on Defra / AEA 2006


Agency vs structure l.jpg
Agency vs. structure pre-industrial levels

  • Infrastructure

    • e.g. existing housing stock, planning

  • Elasticity of demand and availability of substitutes

    • e.g. public transport

  • Institutions

    • e.g. quarterly electricity bills, social norms (cars as status symbols)

  • Socio-technical lock-in


E missions savings from behaviour change l.jpg
E pre-industrial levelsmissions savings from behaviour change

  • Walking, cycling, using public transport, car sharing

  • Turning off the lights

  • Energy saving light bulbs

  • Not leaving things on standby

  • Turning the heating down and wearing a jumper

  • Recycling / composting

  • Flying less


Current communication efforts l.jpg

Current pre-industrial levels

communication efforts


Communicating behaviour change l.jpg
Communicating behaviour change pre-industrial levels

  • ‘Are you doing your bit?’ campaign

  • UK Climate Change Communications Working Group

    Developing “a communication strategy to change attitudes towards climate change in the UK”


Is it working l.jpg
Is it working? pre-industrial levels

Energy demand in domestic and transport sectors (Defra 2006):

  • Residential sector emissions:

    • 1990: 79 MtCO2e

    • 2005: 83 MtCO2e (5% increase)

  • Transport:

    • 1990: 109 MtCO2e

    • 2005: 120 MtCO2e (10% increase)


  • Is it working15 l.jpg
    Is it working? pre-industrial levels

    • Public awareness has increased

      • Only 1% haven’t heard of it

    • Climate change still a low priority

    • Only a minority of public take action to reduce energy consumption

      (Defra 2002/Norton and Leaman, 2004/Poortinga and Pidgeon, 2003)


    Why isn t it working l.jpg
    Why isn’t it working? pre-industrial levels

    • Issue perceived as removed in space and time

      • BBC 2004: 52% of people in UK believe will have ‘little’ or ‘no effect’ on them personally

      • Energy Saving Trust 2004: 85% UK residents believe effects of climate change will not be seen for decades


    Why isn t it working17 l.jpg
    Why isn’t it working? pre-industrial levels

    • ‘Attitude-behaviour’ gap


    Why isn t it working18 l.jpg
    Why isn’t it working? pre-industrial levels

    • ‘Attitude-behaviour’ gap


    Why isn t it working19 l.jpg
    Why isn’t it working? pre-industrial levels

    • Collective action problem / prisoner’s dilemma / free-rider effect


    Why isn t it working20 l.jpg
    Why isn’t it working? pre-industrial levels

    • Intractable opinions

      e.g. Michael Thompson's Cultural Theory - individualists, egalitarians, fatalists and hierarchists


    Forcing people to be green l.jpg

    Forcing people to be green pre-industrial levels


    Forced behaviour change l.jpg
    Forced behaviour change pre-industrial levels

    • Overcomes attitude-behaviour gap

    • Overcomes collective action problem

    • Individualists and fatalists have to suck it up

    • Responds to the urgency of the problem


    Regulated behaviour and encouraging innovation l.jpg
    Regulated behaviour and encouraging innovation pre-industrial levels

    • Technical innovation in low carbon direction is in anticipation of future regulation of carbon emissions e.g. hybrid vehicle technologies


    Risks opportunities of carbon constraints source wri 2001 l.jpg
    Risks & Opportunities of Carbon Constraints pre-industrial levelsSource: WRI 2001

    Additional cost per vehicle

    DECREASING RISK FROM CARBON CONSTRAINTS


    Regulated behaviour and encouraging innovation25 l.jpg
    Regulated behaviour and encouraging innovation pre-industrial levels

    • Regulations, or the anticipation thereof, encourage low carbon innovation

    • Social innovation e.g. car clubs, walking buses, community heat and power generation, social energy cost reducing schemes, transition towns


    The politics l.jpg

    The politics pre-industrial levels


    The government gets the science l.jpg
    The government gets the science pre-industrial levels

    Peter Madden (Previously Head of Policy at the Environment Agency; Ministerial Adviser at DETR and DEFRA):

    ‘I don't think that Government inaction on climate change has anything to do with the science.’


    The government gets the science28 l.jpg
    The government gets the science pre-industrial levels

    John Lawton (Chair, Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution):

    ‘David Miliband has unquestionably grasped the science….Miliband knows urgent action is needed’.

    ‘It is not just the politicians, the senior [DEFRA] civil servants get the science too.’


    The environment as bad politics l.jpg
    The environment as bad politics pre-industrial levels

    • Electoral cycles vs. climate change


    The environment as bad politics30 l.jpg
    The environment as bad politics pre-industrial levels

    • Political capital – a precious resource

    • Fuel protests 2000

      ‘… it put the fear of God into them and it is used rather too frequently now as a justification for not doing much with transport.’

      Sara Eppel, Director of Policy, Sustainable Development Commission

    • Road pricing petition – almost 2 million signatures

    • Press coverage of Climate Change Bill

    • VAT on domestic energy

    • London Mayoral elections


    The environment as bad politics31 l.jpg
    The environment as bad politics pre-industrial levels

    • Mid-termism

    • 2005 election: environment = most important issue for only 2% of voters (Whiteley et al 2005: 154)


    Environmental protection in party manifestos 1959 2005 sources budge et al 2001 and klingemann 2006 l.jpg
    Environmental Protection in Party Manifestos 1959-2005 pre-industrial levelsSources: Budge et al (2001) and Klingemann (2006)


    Additional problems with forcing people to be green l.jpg
    Additional problems with forcing people to be green pre-industrial levels

    • Ignores excellent examples of grass roots action

    • Unlikely to change values in the long term

      • e.g. attitudes to smoking and congestion changed before legislation


    Additional problems with forcing people to be green34 l.jpg
    Additional problems with forcing people to be green pre-industrial levels

    • What can you force people to do?

      • Personal carbon trading, rubbish charging, plastic bag tax, differentiated parking charges (Richmond), VED, road pricing, speed cameras/limits

      • Turn off the lights/fill the kettle less/turn heating down?

      • Domestic energy consumption largely infrastructural issue (agency / structure)


    Learning from past precedents l.jpg
    Learning from past precedents pre-industrial levels

    • Smoking ban

    • Banning plastic bags in Modbury, Devon

    • Seat belts, drink driving

    • London congestion charge

    • 1970s oil crisis (stickers in Austrian cars)

    • Slavery


    Implications a new agenda for research on communication l.jpg

    Implications: pre-industrial levels

    a new agenda for research on communication


    An insight from social psychology l.jpg
    An insight from social psychology pre-industrial levels

    • Communication campaigns based on outdated “information deficit model”

    • Behaviour change requires full public “engagement”

    • Engagement has three aspects (Lorenzoni et al 2007, p.446):

      • cognitive

      • affective

      • behavioural

        “… it is not enough for people to know about climate change in order to be engaged; they also need to care about it, be motivated and able to take action”


    Climate communication a middle way l.jpg
    Climate communication: a middle way pre-industrial levels

    Two crucial, but distinct roles for communication:

    • Facilitate public acceptance of regulation

    • Stimulate grass-roots action


    Climate communication a middle way39 l.jpg
    Climate communication: a middle way pre-industrial levels

    Key = affective (emotional) engagement


    Reorienting the research agenda l.jpg
    Reorienting the research agenda pre-industrial levels

    • Communicatively smart communication

    • Politically smart communication


    Communicatively smart communication l.jpg
    Communicatively smart communication pre-industrial levels

    • Affective communication

    • New approaches that learn from diverse areas including the humanities, arts and marketing

    • Understanding communication in the context of schools

    • Understanding climate “icons”


    Politically smart communication l.jpg
    Politically smart communication pre-industrial levels

    • Directed communications aimed at providing rapid feedback to politicians of a change in the public mood

    • What informs politicians’ perceptions of public opinion?

      • Focus groups?

      • Target constituencies?

      • Direct action?

    • When does something become an electoral issue?

    • When does something become party political e.g. the Cameron effect?

    • Ethical issues – researcher vs. activist


    Conclusion l.jpg
    Conclusion pre-industrial levels

    • Regulating people’s behaviour is an important, effective option in the context of the urgency of climate change (remain aware of agency/structure issue)

    • Still a role for grassroots action

    • Goes to the very heart of our beliefs about the boundaries of public and private, the limits of state control, and the rational behaviour of individuals


    Conclusion44 l.jpg
    Conclusion pre-industrial levels

    • Middle way for climate communication that is politically and communicatively smart

    • Centrality of affective engagement

    • Environment as good politics, not bad politics


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