From a behavioural perspective, climate change poses huge challenges. It prioritises long-term gains over short-term pains and the collective good over personal gain. It requires the public to have a clear sense of what’s the right thing to do, believe we can do it, and that it will make a difference. Despite some famous “wins” such as giving people feedback about the energy use of their more efficient neighbours, many behavioural scientists have worried about the impact that their nascent field can have in saving the planet. So what can we do? Achieving net zero will depend on individuals changing their behaviour. The UK’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) estimated that 62 per cent of what we need to do requires behaviour change. We recently asked 1,200 adults how they feel about common carbon emission-reducing actions. The good news was people are willing to change their behaviour to live more sustainably, with 99 per cent willing to make a change they hadn’t already. Less good was that only 56 per cent had taken any such action in the last six months, unchanged from two years ago, a gap between intentions and action that is very familiar in behavioural science. Our study also found that even with the best intentions, most people don’t actually have a good sense of what will best help our planet. In many cases what people perceive as being impactful and the reality are quite far apart. For example, people recognise that using appliances in eco settings is beneficial, which indeed it is, but not how much more beneficial driving less is (the difference in impact is enormous).
iNews 27th July 2021 read more »