Climate change communications: Understanding people’s perceptions and evaluating the effectiveness of interventions.
A government-funded scheme, the UK Climate Change Communications Initiative (UKCCCI), provided money for organisations to deliver projects that attempted to impact positively on people’s attitudes towards climate change and to increase knowledge and awareness of the issue. This devolution of communications is a relatively novel approach after previous centralised campaigns. This thesis adopts a mixed-method approach; a qualitative and a quantitative study have been conducted based on three case studies of individual projects funded under the UKCCCI. The quantitative study analyses pre- and post-project surveys to assess whether the communications produced the desired changes in attitude, knowledge and awareness; results are generally mixed in relation to all three case studies as some statistics are more positive after communications, whereas some are less positive. Data from a regional UKCCCI project are compared with a nationally representative dataset; this analysis shows that attitudes, knowledge and awareness differ at regional and national scales, supporting the policy of devolving communications. Regional data are also analysed to see if there are differences between socio-demographic groups within a single target audience for communications; this analysis suggests that interventions must strike a balance between personalisation of information and the higher cost of targeting smaller groups with more specific material. The quantitative study uses conceptual content cognitive mapping (3CM) to discover the climate change-related knowledge of twenty subjects who received communications from two of the case study projects. Results suggest that people have knowledge of a wide range of issues related to climate change, but they do not possess a detailed scientific understanding. However, there is a high knowledge of how to mitigate climate change and this is expressed largely through individual actions and lifestyle choices. A template analysis was also conducted to discover what interviewees thought specifically about the communications and a range of practical recommendations are made for future projects. Implications are discussed in relation to future practical climate change communications projects, wider policy and academic research.
- PhD