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Ben Newell: From “why should I bother?” to “Yes, we can!”: Risk, willingness, and cooperation in action on climate change

5:00 PM, Wednesday 2 Jun 2021 EDT (1 hour 15 minutes)
A complete policy response to climate change, habitat destruction, plastic pollution, and other Anthropocene challenges requires action by governments, industries, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals. Attempts to drive change at the individual level often confront reactions like “Why should I bother altering my behavior? And if I do change, will my actions make a difference?” In this talk I discuss the drivers and predictors of individuals’ perceptions of the risk of climate change and how they relate to the willingness to engage in mitigationbehaviours. I also discuss whybehavioural interventions should not only make it easier for people to act but also highlight moral reasons for acting and assure people that their actions make a difference. I will also present recent work examining how early-warning signals of approaching climate thresholds can beusedto overcome the uncertainty that appears to be a major impediment to collective action.

  • Newell, B.R. & Moss. J.M. (in press). Making it Easier to Take Environmental Actions is Not Enough: Policymakers Must Also Emphasize Why Action isNecessary .Behavioral Science and Policy.
  • Xie, B.; Brewer, M.B.; Hayes, B.K.; McDonald, I. & Newell, B.R. (2019) Predicting climate change risk perception and willingness to act.Journal of Environmental Psychology, 65,101331.
  • McDonald, R., Chai, H-Y, & Newell, B. R. (2015). Personal experience and the 'psychological distance' of climate change: An integrative review. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 44109-118.

UNSW Sydney
Professor of Cognitive Psychology and Deputy Head of School, School of Psychology

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