Reorienting climate change communication for effective mitigation: Forcing people to be green or fostering grass-roots engagement?

David Ockwell, Lorraine Whitmarsh, Saffron O'Neill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

203 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Climate communication approaches expend significant resources promoting attitudinal change, but research suggests that encouraging attitudinal change alone is unlikely to be effective. The link between an individual's attitudes and subsequent behavior is mediated by other influences, such as social norms and the "free-rider" effect. One way to engender mitigative behaviors would be to introduce regulation that forces green behavior, but government fears a resulting loss of precious political capital. Conversely, communication approaches that advocate individual, voluntary action ignore the social and structural impediments to behavior change. The authors argue that there are two crucial, but distinct, roles that communication could play in engaging the public in low carbon lifestyles: first, to facilitate public acceptance of regulation and second, to stimulate grass-roots action through affective and rational engagement with climate change. The authors also argue that using communication to stimulate demand for regulation may reconcile these ĝ€top-down" and ĝ€bottom-upĝ€ approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-327
Number of pages23
JournalScience Communication
Volume30
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2009

Keywords

  • Behavior change
  • Climate change
  • Communication
  • Environmental policy
  • Legislation
  • Low carbon
  • Public engagement
  • Regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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