Public understanding of climate change and the gaps between knowledge, attitudes and travel behavior

Howarth, Candice, Waterson, Ben and McDonald, Mike (2009) Public understanding of climate change and the gaps between knowledge, attitudes and travel behavior. In, Transportation Research Board 88th Annual Meeting, Washington DC, USA, 11 - 15 Jan 2009. Washington DC, USA, Transportation Research Board.


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Climate change is the most serious threat facing mankind in the 21st century; it has been linked to human activities and the impacts of global climate change will persevere for years to come. The transport sector is responsible for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change and it is the only sector with rising emissions. Public awareness of the impacts of transport on climate change appears to be high, and a high degree of concern on environmental issues is expressed. However this is not reflected in corresponding lifestyle choices implying the existence of an attitude-behavior gap.
A series of postal questionnaires on climatic awareness and attitudes were distributed to a random population in an area of the UK. A representative sample of the UK population was obtained in terms of demographic and socio-economic characteristics, transport use, availability of public/private transport options, and views on climate change and travel behavior.
This paper shows that the role of information on climate change needs to change. Knowledge and concern for climate change is evident as well as an acceptance of the role individuals have in this. Providing more tailored information therefore, has significant potential in providing the type of information required and encouraging sustainable travel behavior. Three knowledge groups were identified as well as three age categories which can be significant in terms of who to direct information at as well as what information to provide. Attempts to increase public awareness of climatic issues now need to be re-focused on encouraging people to act voluntarily on their attitudes, values and beliefs. Behavioral change is highly supported
and preferred over fiscal measures, but requires more information than is currently available.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Related URLs:
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Civil Engineering and the Environment
ePrint ID: 65556
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
January 2009Published
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2009
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:51
Pervasive Mobile Environmental Sensor Grids
Funded by: EPSRC (EP/E00198X/1)
Led by: Michael McDonald
1 October 2006 to 30 September 2009

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