It’s not too late to do the right thing: Moral motivations for climate change action

Paul Bain, Renata Bongiorno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (SciVal)
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While it is too late to avert some dangerous consequences of climate change, it is not “all-or-nothing” and our actions can still make a difference. Building on social psychology research showing the importance of seeing one's group as moral, one reason people act on climate change is to help create a more moral and caring society. Considering climate change action through this lens gives rise to several challenges, including how people respond to moral threats, who has moral standing as advocates, the consequences of promoting a moral cause through “immoral” actions (e.g., breaking the law), and moral “blind spots” where some emitting behaviors are excluded from scrutiny. Reviewing social psychological bases for these issues suggests potential responses to these challenges, including the importance of engaging people with diverse views and backgrounds (e.g., through citizens' assemblies), advisory personal carbon budgets, and broad-based policies that aim to secure the social well-being of communities as well as the protect the environment (e.g., a Green New Deal). Encouragingly, a recent study suggests that many people are more ready than we might assume to accept the types of changes urgently needed. This article is categorized under: Perceptions, Behavior, and Communication of Climate Change > Behavior Change and Responses.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere615
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
Issue number1
Early online date23 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • citizens assemblies
  • co-benefits
  • living within limits
  • morality
  • societal change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Atmospheric Science


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