Published: 22 November 2022
Making positive climate behaviours as normal, easy, attractive and routine as possible, is key to evoking sustained change and mitigating the effects of the climate crisis, says a new guide from Public Health Wales.
Launched as part of the Welsh Government Wales Climate week (21 -23 November), ‘Responding to the climate crisis: applying behavioural science’ is designed to support policy makers and professionals use behaviour science to create effective interventions to respond to the climate crisis.
Many behaviours that can have negative impacts on the climate occur regularly and repetitively (such as commuting, waste disposal, and shopping), and have become automatic for many (otherwise known as habits), that are often hard to change with simple/traditional approaches.
Oliver Williams, Speciality Registrar in Public Health at Public Health Wales, said:
“It is estimated that more than 40 per cent of our daily-living actions are habits, and therefore not actually conscious decisions.
“The slow adoption or spread of positive climate behaviours is often not because of a lack of awareness or knowledge, or even a lack of motivation or intention, but our approach to disrupting existing habits, or adequately enabling new ones”
“Making positive climate behaviours normal, easy, attractive and routine (NEAR) is likely to be far more effective than raising awareness of the crisis.”
‘Responding to the climate crisis: applying behavioural science’ offers a quick-reference guide for professionals and practitioners working on policy, services or communications to tackle the climate crisis. It proposes approaches and techniques to better disrupt habits, and also how to counter headline biases that often undermine positive climate behaviour change efforts, including focusing on immediate benefits (rather than those in the distant future); framing the co-benefits of target behaviours (the climate, health, and cost-of-living); using plans, prompts and positivity; and adopting evidence-based behavioural diagnostic approaches to optimise interventions.