Translating climate beliefs into action in a changing political landscape

Johnson Zawadzki, S., Bouman, T., Steg, L., Bojarskich, V. & Druen, P., 2018.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic

The scientific consensus is that anthropogenic climate change is unequivocally occurring1 and urgent2. Countries world-wide have committed to climate change mitigation (e.g., the Paris Climate Agreement3 [PCA]). Yet, recent elections in various countries saw climate skeptics rise to prominence4. Still, many supporters of skeptical leaders believe in climate change themselves5. Our research explored how climate change engagement varies when climate skeptical leaders are elected and implement policies that contribute to climate change. We compared climate change engagement in the US the day before the 2016 presidential election and at three pivotal time points throughout President Trump’s administration: after 20 days in office, 100 days in office, and withdrawing from the PCA. Beliefs that climate change is real remained high among all respondents. Yet, beliefs that climate change is man-made and risky to people, moral norms related pro-environmental behavior, intentions to save energy, and support for the PCA declined after his election – but only among Trump’s supporters. However, after withdrawal from the PCA, Trump supporters’ climate change engagement returned to pre-election levels except for support for the PCA. To better understand these fluctuations, we conducted a content analysis of Trump’s climate change policy decisions and messaging, using his Twitter accounts and White House press releases. Taken together, our results suggest Trump supporters’ climate engagement has changed over the course of his election and early climate policy decisions. Further, it appears Trump supporters are engaged with climate change – but they listen to him and their engagement follows his lead, whatever the direction. References 1. Anderegg, W. R., Prall, J. W., Harold, J. & Schneider, S. H. Expert credibility in climate change. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.107, 12107-12109 (2010). 2. IPCC core writing team. IPCC, 2014: Climate change 2014: Synthesis report. Contribution of working groups I, II and III to the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Pachauri, R. K. & Meyer, L. A. eds). 1-151 (2014). 3. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Paris Agreement – Status of Ratification. (2016). 4. Hoffman, A. J. The culture and discourse of climate skepticism. Strat. Org. 9, 77-84 (2011). 5. Leiserowitz, A., Maibach, E., Roser-Renouf, C., Rosenthal, S., & Cutler, M. Climate change in the American mind: November 2016. 1-47 American-Mind-November-2016.pdf (2017).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventInternational Congress of Applied Psychology - Palais des congrès, Montréal, Canada
Duration: 26-Jun-201830-Sep-2018
Conference number: 29


ConferenceInternational Congress of Applied Psychology
Abbreviated titleICAP
Internet address


International Congress of Applied Psychology


Montréal, Canada

Event: Conference

ID: 75807249