Risk perception and response toward climate change for higher education students in Taiwan

Abstract

The effects of climate change have already begun to threaten biological diversity and human societies, and these effects will continue to grow over time. To face the challenges related to mitigation and adaptation will require an educated and motivated citizenry. From the perspective of green education, providing knowledge related to climate change and promoting pro-environmental behaviors is imperative. In this study, we assess current levels of knowledge, risk perception and types of pro-environmental behaviors. We administered a questionnaire to 1118 university students in Taiwan evaluating climate change knowledge (15 items), risk perception (23 items), and attitudes toward behavioral change (33 items). Factor analyses were conducted to identify the underlying latent variables for risk perception and obstacles to behavioral change, and ANOVA tests were performed to identify significant associations between three different levels of climate change knowledge and responses to the risk perception and obstacles-to-change items. We found that higher levels of knowledge significantly predicted greater perceptions of risk related to biodiversity threats and increased public costs. In terms of behavior, students with lower levels of knowledge were significantly more likely to find uncertainties related to climate change to be a greater obstacle to engaging in pro-environmental behaviors. Higher levels of knowledge clearly allow individuals to better assess the threats posed by climate change and reduces the perceived level of uncertainty related to climate change and the impact of pro-environmental behaviors. Our results suggest that Taiwan’s efforts to implement climate change related information in the public schools and in the university system have been effective and that such efforts should be broadened to reach the public as a whole.

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Funding

The authors express their gratitude to the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan (MOST 104-2511-S-130-002-MY2) for funding this project.

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Correspondence to Tai-Yi Yu.

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Yu, T., Lavallee, J.P., Di Giusto, B. et al. Risk perception and response toward climate change for higher education students in Taiwan. Environ Sci Pollut Res 27, 24749–24759 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-019-07450-7

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Keywords

  • Factor analysis
  • Climate change
  • Risk perception
  • Knowledge level
  • ANOVA
  • Environmental actions