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Economics, health, or environment: What motivates individual climate action? | CLIMAS

Economics, health, or environment: What motivates individual climate action?

TitleEconomics, health, or environment: What motivates individual climate action?
Publication TypeArticles
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsBrown, H, Austhof, E, Ferguson, D
JournalPLOS Climate
Date Published08/2023

Climate change is a major threat to human health, however the role of health in climate change communication is understudied. The goal of this study was to understand how to support individuals’ adoption of climate related mitigation and adaptation activities. We hypothesized the primary motivation for engaging in pro-environmental activities would be unequally distributed across health, economics, or environment motivations. We also hypothesized respondents who felt greater susceptibility and those with higher perceived self-efficacy would adopt more pro-environmental behaviors. In 2020, we conducted a cross-sectional study using Amazon’s MTurk platform. Among the respondents, the most commonly reported activity was alternatives to private vehicles (30% already engaging), while more than two thirds of respondents reported wanting to install solar panels (70.1%) and converting to a high efficiency vehicle (63.2%). Depending on the action, respondents’ reported motivation varied. Economics was common to those who used public transportation and who installed solar paneling; purchasing a high efficiency vehicle was split between environment and economic reasons. Health was the primary motivation for converting to a plant-based diet. The perceived immediacy of climate change impacts was associated with adoption of pro-climate activities as were beliefs around human capacity to mitigate climate change. Despite the growing literature supporting health as a motivation for climate action, economic motivation was more commonly selected among the activities we evaluated. These results could aid the development of more efficient evidence-based communication strategies that would reach various audiences in society.