Place-based inter-generational communication on local climate improves adolescents’ perceptions and willingness to mitigate climate change

Abstract

With the Paris Agreement, countries have pledged to promote strategies and policies to substantially reduce their carbon emissions. To align public sentiment with potentially expensive climate mitigation policy, climate change education is considered an essential tool in tackling climate change, particularly for the young generation. However, a general lack of engagement is driven by the perception that climate change is irrelevant at local and individual scales. Based on a modified version of the Theory of Planned Behaviour, we implemented a new climate change educational programme, in 12 rural areas of China, where adolescents communicated with local seniors (aged ≥ 60 years) in focus groups to discuss local climate over the past decades. Seniors’ memories of extreme climatic events generally were in concordance with meteorological data. The adolescents’ uncertainty about climate change exhibited significant change after the programme, followed by concern, risk perception, and perceived behavioural control. Based on mediation analysis, the shift in adolescent concern and perceived behavioural control translated into greater willingness to support climate change mitigation. Thus, we suggest that climate change education should emphasize place-based strategies that highlight the relevance of global climate change through local impacts and individual experiences vis-a-vis inter-generational communication to promote greater engagement with climate change.

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Acknowledgments

This research was funded by Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden. The authors acknowledge all the teachers and students for implementing the programme, Zexin Fan for providing the meteorological data, Richard T. Corlett, Christos Mammides and Charlotte Chang for revising earlier drafts of the manuscript. The authors also thank anonymous reviewers for their comments.

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Correspondence to Jin Chen.

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Hu, S., Chen, J. Place-based inter-generational communication on local climate improves adolescents’ perceptions and willingness to mitigate climate change. Climatic Change 138, 425–438 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-016-1746-6

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Keywords

  • Climate Change
  • Risk Perception
  • Behavioural Control
  • Perceive Behavioural Control
  • Place Attachment