SPOTLIGHT: WHY CLIMATE CHANGE NEEDS BEHAVIOUR CHANGE
INTERVIEW: The 'kitchen sink' approach hasn't worked
This month we speak with Kevin Green, Head of Rare's Center for Behavior and the Environment to help us work through all this. Rare is bringing the best of behavioural and social science research to people on the frontlines of climate action. Kevin explains why we're hardwired to ignore climate change. He challenges the view that individual behaviour will have minimal impact on emission targets. To prove it, the Center has just identified 30 individual behaviours that have the potential to reduce about a third of the projected cumulative emissions from 2020 to 2050. Read it all in their hot off the presses report (PDF).
Everyone else will be doing it!
Maybe people aren’t engaging in the fight against climate change because of the perceived inaction of others. Like this research into dynamic norms and pre-conformity. The authors saw increases of vegetarian orders in restaurants simply by telling diners that more people were trying the meatless menu options, highlighting not current behaviour but a change that is in process and liable to continue. Others are highlighting this by emphasizing the importance of promoting leaders who go against current norms to inspire collective action for climate action.
Stealth Climate Change Denial
Slogans like ‘Climate Action Now’ sound hollow because they rarely speak to or acknowledge our competing commitments to fuel prices, energy security and economic growth. This article and the 2013 study it references sheds light on Stealth Denial. Those who say they accept the reality of man-made climate change, but have no emotional connection, do not feel their actions contribute to the problem, and feel their contribution would be insignificant to limiting climate change.
It’s about a positive, emotional appeal to promote political action... obviously
Here's a roundup of where we've gone wrong on climate action: We've focussed too much on individual change, too much on fact, and not emotion. We've failed to show that climate change is a problem that can be solved. We've failed to acknowledge that people are motivated more by present loss than future gain. Shifting to a positive message of the future and encouraging political action may be the answer.
“And how did that make you feel?”
This article puts climate change on the couch and finds that our minds are constantly shielding us from difficult knowledge that might challenge our identity, life choices, or values. So how do we align truth about the science with emotional security? “Simplistic demands for changes in behaviour take no account of the complexity of people’s feelings about climate change or the way in which behaviour is locked into social structures and expectations.”