Outline of thesis and seminar1. Lights, camera… action?2. Investigating the long-term impacts of climate change communications3. How might films encourage individual behaviour change?4. It’s not (just) “the environment, stupid!”5. Living with a carbon allowance: the experiences of Carbon Rationing Action Groups6. Overall summary and conclusions
Why bother with individuals? Percentage of UK emissions by source Other Household emissions energy 15% 20% Domestic and international Household travel indirect 15% emissions 50%Office of National Statistics 2004
Background: literature Affect plays an important part in determining people’s responses to environmental issues Emotions, not just knowledge, should be targeted by environmental education campaigns Visual media offer many advantages for communicating motivating messages Many studies suggest that fear-based appeals change attitudes and behavioural intentions
But… People need a sense of agency Protection Motivation Theory: people change behaviour in response to fear appeals only when they believe specific behaviours will reduce the threat People don’t like feeling helpless, therefore climate change fear appeals can trigger denial, apathy, repression, anger, counter-productive defensive measures Cognitive dissonance: people may change their attitudes to match their actions if they feel uncomfortable about the gap between the two What about behaviour in the ‘real world’? Lab-based studies of fear appeals are flawed
Survey: the impact of the film ‘Before’ and ‘after’ questionnaires in the foyer at the Edinburgh Filmhouse (March 2009) 241 respondents at 21 screenings Follow-up questionnaire completed by 162 of these respondents 10-14 weeks later Further follow-up one year later (15 months after viewing the film);104 respondents
Increased concern and motivation to act… 83% said they were ‘a bit’ or ‘a lot’ more concerned immediately after seeing the film Significant increase in agreement with statements “I feel motivated to do something about climate change”, “I can do something to prevent climate change getting worse” and “It’s worth lobbying politicians about climate change” But this effect had worn off by the time of the follow-up surveys
Does this translate into action? Awareness raising and lobbying politicians Home energy use Travel Food
Glass half empty For each action asked about, the percentage of respondents who said they were doing it because of seeing the film was small,decreasing as the behaviours got more costly
Glass half empty Glass half full For each action For each action, asked about, the 1%-29% said they percentage of were doing it respondents who because of seeing said they were the film, e.g. doing it because 12% driving less of seeing the film 18% buying more was small, local producedecreasing as the 22% decided to behaviours got stop/reduce holiday more costly flying long-term
Respondents were not the ‘generalpublic’ Very high levels of concern and motivation to act even before seeing the film Over 1/3 said they were actively involved in a group campaigning wholly/partly about climate change The film likely presented information they were already familiar with and accepted
2. Investigating the long-term impactsof climate change communications One reason I came to see the film is because I’m interested in/concerned about climate change/global w arming Interest in/concern about climate change/global w arming w as my MAIN reason for coming to see the film I am very concerned about climate change/global w arming Q1 sample (n=230-241) Q3 sample I feel motivated to try to do something about (n=155-162) climate change/global w arming Q4 sample (n=99-104) I’ve donated money in the last year to a group that campaigns partly/w holly about climate change/global w arming I am actively involved in a group that campaigns partly/w holly about climate change/global w arming 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Percentage of valid responses Figure 1: Percentage of respondents in each sample who agreed on the first questionnaire with these statements
Behavioural changes Participants generally persisted with changes they’d made as a result of seeing the film A few ‘late starters’? Behavioural intentions do not necessarily lead to action Respondents’ causal attributions of their behaviour are unreliable (in retrospect they attributed action to the impact of the film that earlier they had said they were already taking)
Implications for research Recruitment and retention of participants who are not ‘the converted’ Behavioural intentions cannot be assumed to be proxies for actual behaviour Requesting causal self-attributions adds another layer of complexity to problems with self-report measures Collection of data can influence respondents’ action Isolating the impacts of one ‘intervention’ over time
3. How might films encourageindividual behaviour change?
‘Stages of change’ model ofbehaviour change aka the transtheoretical model (TTM) – health psychology
Role of films in promoting change Climate change films employ/depict several processes of change that TTM suggests should encourage attitudinal/behaviour change Consciousness-raising and dramatic relief are the processes most frequently associated with the films – most suitable for audience at early stages of change Consciousness-raising and self-re-evaluation best done by characters the audience can relate to Self-liberation could be emphasised more – pivotal process between thinking about change and beginning it Filmmakers keen to promote action could portray the variety of processes that help to support and maintain behavioural change
4. It’s not (just) “the environment,stupid!”Values, discourses, and routes toengagement of people adopting lowercarbon lifestyles
Purposive sampling – 16 interviewees 9 women, 7 men Age range: early 20s – 80s 14 white, including 1 Hungarian and 1 South African; 1 Indian; 1 English Chinese All middle class, university educated, though some on low incomes 4 renters; 12 owner-occupiers Varied household composition Average interview: 1 hour 41 minutes
Social justice"I think the gut thing that moves me is people."
Community"I think this has to do with being linked into the community."
Frugality "Theres no desperation for new trainers."
Talking about climate change"I think that you don’t even have to care about climate change to want a low carbon lifestyle."
A lower carbon lifestyle"For me it’s more local living, stronger communities, more time for each other."
Triangulation: values survey Questionnaire based on Schwartz Values Survey Top-rated value: social justice Meanalt > Meanbio(de Groot & Steg 2007, 2008)
Implications? Altruistic values might be as useful as biospheric ones CC campaigns could make more links with ‘altruistic’ organisations e.g. refugee/women’s/religious groups Frugality: need for a fundamental shift away from a materialistic/consumerist culture? Climate change communications need to encourage people to imagine a holistic positive vision for a lower-carbon future, not just give a to do list
5. Living with a carbon allowance:experiences of CRAGs Small grassroots groups of concerned individuals Calculate carbon footprint and set themselves a carbon ration each year Some groups have a financial penalty for over- emitters Rationale for study: implications for a personal carbon trading (PCT) policy?
Table 1: Features of particular interest in the CRAGs included in this study CRAG Interviews Details of interest Hereford 3 Into third year; rural CRAG; equal-per-capita target; no penalty Oxford 3 2 years completed; equal-per-capita target; financial penalty but no trading Hackney and 2 Into second year; equal-per-capita target; operates rudimentary Islington carbon trading Glasgow 3 Into second year; equal-per-capita target; operates rudimentary carbon trading Leeds 2 Completed one year; individual targets and penalties; no trading; denotes itself a Carbon Reduction Action Group York 2 Completed one year; equal-per-capita target; no penalty; denotes itself a Carbon Reduction Action Group WSP PACT 3 Part way through first year; workplace-based CRAG; penalty and reward Fownhope 3 Part way through first year; rural CRAG; percentage reduction rather than equal-per-capita target; no penalty Peckham 1 New CRAG still starting up; no penalty Edinburgha 1 A ‘failed’ CRAGa Since this research was carried out, a new CRAG was started in Edinburgh.
Key findings from CRAGs Motivated individuals can make significant reductions in their direct GHG emissions Improved carbon literacy: - greater awareness of energy use and related emissions - C footprint statements help people understand the relative impacts of different aspects of their lifestyle Equal-per-capita allowances not necessarily seen as ‘fair’ Being part of a group is helpful for many reasons, especially moral support, increased sense of agency, and information sharing CRAGs can’t tell us much about PCT policy
Overall summary/conclusions Need to engage more of the population in action Make common cause with organisations concerned about social justice and human rights Emphasise non-environmental benefits of lower-carbon lifestyles (but don’t stress financial benefits) Recruit different audiences to see climate change films – promote in schools? But primary role for climate change communications is to encourage and reinforce public concern so politicians act Need for serious top-down legislation that will impact on everyday practices and behaviours
Papers Howell, R.A., 2011. Lights, camera… action? Altered attitudes and behaviour in response to the climate change film The Age of Stupid. Global Environmental Change 21, 177–187. Howell, R.A., 2012. Investigating the Long-Term Impacts of Climate Change Communications on Individuals’ Attitudes and Behavior. Environment and Behavior, doi: 10.1177/0013916512452428. Howell, R.A. How might climate change films encourage individual behavioural change? An analysis using the transtheoretical model. To be published in a special issue of the International Journal of Sustainable Development on ‘Sustainability Tales, Fictions and Other Stories from the Movie Industry’. Howell, R.A., 2013. It’s not (just) “the environment, stupid!” Values, motivations, and routes to engagement of people adopting lower-carbon lifestyles. Global Environmental Change, 23, 281–290. Howell, R.A., 2012. Living with a carbon allowance: the experiences of Carbon Rationing Action Groups and implications for policy. Energy Policy 41, 250–258.
Processes of change Consciousness raising e.g. education, feedback
Processes of change Consciousness raising Dramatic relief being moved emotionally
Processes of change Consciousness raising Dramatic relief Environmental re-evaluation thoughts and feelings about how behaviour affects ones environment
Processes of change Consciousness raising Dramatic relief Environmental re- evaluation Self re-evaluation thoughts and feelings about self-image with and without particular behaviour
Processes of change Consciousness raising Dramatic relief Environmental re- evaluation Self re-evaluation Self-liberation belief that one can change and commitment to do so
Processes of change Helping relationships offering support for change
Processes of change Helping relationships Contingency management consequences for behaviour - sticks and carrots