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Climate Emotions

Research paper: Emotions as drivers of climate change opinions and actions

01 December 2021

This open access research paper explains how emotions are key influences on the ways people think about climate change, and the actions they might take to address the climate crisis. It outlines how both positive and negative emotional communications can promote sustainable behaviours.

Emotions trigger ‘motivational tendencies’ that influence people’s ability to cope with different types of situations. For instance, fear can lead to defensive responses (such as fight, flight, or freeze), while sadness can result in seeking to change one’s personal circumstances.

Emotions also influence how we think about issues and evaluate responses – for instance, emotions like hope, fear or anger may influence our sense of risk from climate change, or how much control we feel in pursuing different types of actions.

Reference article:

  • Source: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
  • Author: Tobias Brosch
  • Date: 1st December 2021

The latest from the Climate Emotions timeline:

Climate Barometer Tracker 24th January 2024

Tracker data: The youngest and the poorest are most worried about climate and wellbeing

Climate Barometer data shows that while overall only around 16% of the public say they are worried that climate change will impact their ‘mental health and wellbeing’ over the next ten years, a closer look tells us a more nuanced story.

In line with an abundance of research showing young people have among the highest climate anxiety, the data shows a clear link between age and worry about mental health and wellbeing, with older groups much less concerned than younger groups.

Looking at the same question by income bands, those earning the least (under £5000 per year) are most likely to worry that climate change will affect their mental health and wellbeing, underscoring the connections between income, cost of living pressures,  and vulnerability to climate impacts.

Media Insight 15th November 2023

Reuters Institute report: UK audiences prefer climate coverage focused on ‘solutions’

The Reuters Institute for Journalism, at the University of Oxford, has released a report (following a similar analysis in 2022) analysing how people in eight countries – Brazil, France, Germany, India, Japan, Pakistan, the UK, and the USA – access news and information about climate change in 2023.

UK audiences (in line with those in other countries) rate ‘solutions focused’ climate news as the type of news they are most interested in, supporting the idea that there’s a need to balance the (necessary) focus on the risks and threat of climate change with reporting that signposts or highlights solutions to problems, as well as the problems themselves.

The Local Storytelling Exchange, grounded in solutions-focused regional reporting from around the UK, exists to address this need, showing ‘this is what the transition looks like’ through relatable stories that aim to build a sense of agency (which climate stories which only focus on risks and threats, can undermine).

  • Source: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism
  • Date: 14th November 2023
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