Climate change mitigation at the individual level: examining climate change beliefs and energy saving behaviours with the aim to encourage the reduction of end-user energy consumption

Koletsou, Alexia (2015) Climate change mitigation at the individual level: examining climate change beliefs and energy saving behaviours with the aim to encourage the reduction of end-user energy consumption. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Unsustainable levels of energy consumption, resulting in carbon emissions, are leading to
one of the world’s greatest environmental problems: climate change. The only short-term
strategy for reducing these emissions is a reduction in end-user energy demand.
Households have a major part to play in this reduction as they are responsible for 29% of
total UK emissions (excluding direct transport related emissions and indirect emissions).
The research reported in this thesis contributes to understanding what makes people adopt
or not adopt climate change mitigation behaviours. The study employed an on-line
questionnaire answered by a nationally representative quota sample of just over five
hundred participants of Great Britain (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales)
aged 18 years and older. It thus contributes a major dataset for secondary analysis.
The findings of this research contribute through an analysis of three different aspects of
climate change beliefs and behaviours. Firstly, the examination of climate change beliefs
reveals that justifications differ depending on belief. More specifically, those who believe
that climate change is happening base their belief on changing weather, while those who
don’t believe climate change is happening were found to base their belief on the natural
process involved. A third category of those unsure whether climate change was happening
was also identified. These respondents were found to point to both humans and other
causes for climate change. Additionally, perceptions of believers about climate change
(impact of lifestyle and action for climate change, ability of humans to overcome climate
change, problem extent of climate change, and levels of confidence in scientists’
confidence both regarding climate predictions and regarding the link between emissions
and climate change) were found to differ to those held by deniers.
Secondly, the data demonstrate that there is little association between belief in climate
change and the adoption of climate change mitigation behaviours. Although the majority of
the public state that they believe climate change is happening and that they take action out
of concern for climate change, neither of these two factors was found to be related to the
adoption of the 21 energy saving behaviours examined (Gardner and Stern, 2008).
Furthermore, the findings indicate that self-efficacy (which is concerned with people’s
beliefs about their capabilities to perform a specific behaviour) is associated with
behaviour adoption. However, despite money being found to be the key motivator for
behaviour adoption, the behaviours carried out do not correspond to the ones that are the
most effective for saving money, nor those perceived to be the most effective. This could
be due to misunderstandings of the effectiveness of behaviours. Thirdly, interventions
aimed to encourage households to reduce their energy consumption are examined through
a literature review. This is followed by an examination of the potential audiences that
could benefit the most from targeted interventions. Sociodemographic variables are able to
partially identify the groups of people that may respond most positively to targeted
interventions (incorporating antecedent and consequence strategies); those who want to do
more for the environment, those who save the least amount of energy, and those who make
the biggest error regarding the potential financial savings.
This research suggests that interventions should focus on supporting individuals in
developing self-efficacy in relation to mitigation behaviours, providing information on the
possible savings when adopting different behaviours and on addressing the barriers to
behaviour adoption.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: climate change, energy saving behaviours, self-efficacy
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Mancy, Dr. Rebecca
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Miss A Koletsou
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6457
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2015 11:08
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2015 11:10
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/6457

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