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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

To mitigate or adapt? Explaining why citizens responding to climate change favour the former

Blennow, Kristina; Persson, Johannes

Abstract

Why do citizens’ decisions made because they favour the mitigation of climate change outnumber those made because they favour adaptation to its impacts? Using data collected in a survey of 338 citizens of Malmö, Sweden, we tested two hypotheses. H1: the motivation for personal decisions because they favour adaptation to the impacts of climate change correlates with the decision-making agent´s knowledge of specific local impacts of climate change, and H2: the motivation for personal decisions because they favour mitigation of climate change correlates with the risk perception of the decision-making agent. While decisions made because they favour mitigation correlated with negative net values of expected impacts of climate change (risk perception), decisions made because they favour adaptation correlated with its absolute value unless tipping point behaviour occurred. Tipping point behaviour occurs here when the decision-making agent abstains from decisions in response to climate change in spite of a strongly negative or positive net value of expected impacts. Hence, the decision-making agents´ lack of knowledge of specific climate change impacts inhibited decisions promoting adaptation. Moreover, positive experiences of climate change inhibited mitigation decisions. Discussing the results, we emphasised the importance of understanding the drivers of adaptation and mitigation decisions. In particular, we stress that attention needs to be paid to the balance between decisions solving problems ‘here and now’ and those focusing on the ‘there and then’.

Keywords

climate change adaptation; climate change mitigation; tipping point behaviour; risk perception; net value of expected impacts; decision maker’s tipping point behaviour; systemic tipping point behaviour

Published in

Land
2021, Volume: 10, number: 3, article number: 240

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG13 Climate action

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
    Climate Research

    Publication identifier

    DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/land10030240

    Permanent link to this page (URI)

    https://res.slu.se/id/publ/110857