It's not (just) "the environment, stupid!" Values, motivations, and routes to engagement of people adopting lower-carbon lifestyles

Rachel A. Howell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This exploratory mixed-methods study uses in-depth interviews to investigate the values, motivations, and routes to engagement of UK citizens who have adopted lower-carbon lifestyles. Social justice, community, frugality, and personal integrity were common themes that emerged from the transcripts. Concern about the environment' per se is not the primary motivation for most interviewees' action. Typically, they are more concerned about the plight of poorer people who will suffer from climate change. Although biospheric values are important to the participants, they tended to score altruistic values significantly higher on a survey instrument. Thus, it may not be necessary to promote biospheric values to encourage lower-carbon lifestyles. Participants' narratives of how they became engaged with climate action reveal links to human rights issues and groups as much as environmental organisations and positive experiences in nature. Some interviewees offered very broad (positive) visions of what 'a low-carbon lifestyle' means to them. This, and the fact that 'climate change' is not necessarily seen as interesting even by these highly engaged people, reveals a need for climate change mitigation campaigns to promote a holistic view of a lower-carbon future, rather than simply offering a 'to do' list to 'combat climate change'. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-290
Number of pages10
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013

Keywords

  • Lower-carbon lifestyles
  • Values
  • Motivations
  • Environmentally responsible behaviour
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Pro-environmental behaviour
  • Biospheric value orientations
  • Sustainable consumption
  • Ecological citizenship
  • Attitudes

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