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Transcript
AN INVESTIGATION INTO PUBLIC ATTITUDES, AWARENESS AND
ACTIONS TOWARDS CLIMATE CHANGE.
MALCOLM MCMILLAN
Dissertation submitted (in part) for Bachelor of Science (Honours) Degree in
Sustainable Environmental Management.
The Scottish Agricultural College and University of Edinburgh.
Presentation Overview
Rationale;
Aims and Objectives;
Methodology;
Results;
Conclusions.
Rationale
Reasons for the choice of study topic:
• This researcher’s personal interest in people’s attitudes and awareness to
environmental issues;
• The importance of the public’s role in reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas
emissions identified in the Literature review;
• The wish to discover current public attitudes, awareness and understanding of
climate change;
• The significance of attitudes in helping to make the necessary change in lifestyle
highlighted by Government agencies.
Aims and Objectives
The aims of this dissertation project were:
Aim A. To investigate awareness of, and attitudes towards, climate change and
actions taken to mitigate it:
Objective 1.1. Create and distribute a suitable questionnaire.
Aim B. Produce original survey data upon which future comparisons can be
made:
Objective 2.1. Collect questionnaire survey responses and analyse the results.
Aim C. To gain an understanding of how important attitudes and awareness are
in determining environmentally friendly behaviour:
Objective 3.1. Undertake a review of reputable literature on the subject.
Methodology
•
The primary source of data came from a questionnaire survey distributed
electronically to the staff of South Ayrshire Council;
•
The secondary source of information came from a literature review;
•
The sample size was 1,750;
•
444 responses;
•
Response rate was 25.3%.
Results
Chi2 test:
• No trend between age and levels of concern about climate change;
• No trends between age and levels of action mitigating climate change;
Literature Review:
• Awareness is an important contributing factor in determining an individual’s
action and attitudes;
• In theory, raising awareness of climate change should help increase
environmentally friendly behaviour;
• In reality this theory is indirect and at best weak;
• The more informed the individual is, the more pro-environmentally friendly
attitudes they will have, and are therefore more likely to carry out
environmentally friendly actions.
Results continued.
• These results strongly indicate that a large majority of employees of South
Ayrshire Council believe they possess a basic or good knowledge of climate
change.
Results continued.
Questions on the causes and effects, there is a gap between perceived
knowledge and actual knowledge.
Percent Response (n=442)
Q. 3 Which of these factors do you think most contribute
to climate change?
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
None Correct
One Correct
Two Correct
35.1
25.3
20.4
8.4
Three Correct
10.9
Four Correct
Q.4. Please list below any effects that climate change is
predicted to have on the global environment. (n=442)
6.8%
0.2%
Correct
Incorrect
34.6%
58.4%
Correct but
Inaccurate
Inaccurate some
correct
Despite this knowledge gap there was evidence of very comprehensive
knowledge amongst members of South Ayrshire Council (SAC) staff.
Results continued.
Responses from Q.4, “Please list below any effects that climate change is
predicted to have on the global environment.”,
• Common confusions were apparent;
8
02/12/2008 09:17:00
Destruction of Ozone layer - leading to "possible" global warming.
22
02/12/2008 09:20:00
holes in aerosol layer
148
02/12/2008 11:14:00
hole in ozone: weather messed up all over the world
• Example of good knowledge;
237
02/12/2008 16:28:00
weather patterns, farming, habitat, medical, transport, spread of
desert, rising sea levels, politicians trying to make capital from
disaster, competition for scarce resources, hostility between
populations, bitter devisions becoming more evident in the north
/ south divide, changes to ocean currents, loss of mass at the
polar ice caps etc
Results continued.
When asked to display how concerned they were about climate change the
majority responded with high levels of concern
42.7
39.8
12.6
2.0
2 Slightly
Concerned
3 Quite
Concerned
4 Very
Concerned
5 Anxious
18.3
22.1
12.3
12.510.4
18.5
4.4 0.8 0.8
ha
ve
re
1 Don't Care
3.0
100.0
90.0
80.0
70.0
60.0
50.0
40.0
30.0
20.0
10.0
0.0
du
ce
d
I
th
I
ta
cu
ke e n
t
do
no um
w
ac be
n
tio r o
on
f
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m
to flig
y
ht
re
co
ns I u du s I
ta
um se ce
ke
pt
ca m y
.
i
r
on
I
im
bo
I
re
pa
n
of
cy cut
c
ga off
cl
d
e
se t .
ow
s
m
t
or n o and tin
g
e
n
e
th
le .
m
c
in
y
I
w tric
bu gs
a
ity
th
te
y
.
I
a
r
l
o
n
ha
us
ca
I
ve
ag
lly
th
e.
in
ro
s
o
su
w
I
us ur
la
ce aw
te
e
a
d
a
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pr y.
fu
m
o
y
e
du
ho l e
ce
ff
m
ic
.
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ie
to
nt
sa
c
ve ar.
en
er
gy
.
100.0
90.0
80.0
70.0
60.0
50.0
40.0
30.0
20.0
10.0
0.0
Q.10. What measures do you take to reduce your environmental
impact? (n= 357)
I
Percent Responses(n= 405)
Q.5. On a scale of 1-5 please indicate how concerned you are
about climate change.
This concern should relate to high levels of action, yet from the results to question
10 it is clear that only a minority take action to alleviate their impact on the
environment. This attitude-behaviour gap is documented in socio-psychological
literature
Results continued.
The results from the attitude section allows assumptions to be made about the
attitudes of the majority of SAC employees:
• The majority of council employees believe climate change is happening;
• The effects of climate change are not over exaggerated;
• They think that the government should force people to reduce their emissions;
• They believe climate change is too big an issue for individuals to tackle alone;
• Not enough steps are in place to tackle climate change;
• Unsure if technology can help deal with climate change;
• Feel that climate change is everybody’s responsibility;
• Believe not enough is being done about climate change.
Results continued.
 This type of response has been
dubbed psychological
distancing.
14.3
17.3
1.3
6.2
Lo
ca
lC
In
te
ou
rn
nc
at
ils
io
na
lC
om
Th
e
m
G
un
en
it y
er
al
Co
m
Bu
m
sin
un
ity
es
s
an
d
In
du
st
ry
G
ro
up
s
re
ss
ur
e
en
ta
lP
Th
e
G
ov
er
nm
en
t
id
ua
l
5.9
In
di
v
Percent Responses (n=373)
32.1
22.9
En
vir
on
m
 They also responded that local
councils were the least
responsible for combating climate
change.
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Th
e
 When asked who they felt was
responsible for combating climate
change, the majority of
respondents answered that the
International community, the UK
government and the individual
were most responsible.
Q.6 Who do you think is responsible for combating climate change?
Conclusions
 Age has no clear influence over levels of concern or levels of action, however a
larger sample may have produced more conclusive results;
• South Ayrshire Council (SAC) employees believe they have a good knowledge
of climate change;
 A knowledge gap exists between perceived knowledge of climate change and
actual knowledge of climate change amongst the staff of South Ayrshire Council;
• A high level of concern exists amongst staff over climate change but this does
not result in high levels of personal action;
• Positive support for environmental improvement from the staff of SAC.
Contact details:
Malcolm McMillan
E-mail:
[email protected]
Telephone:
01586 55 42 17