Does Information on the Costs of Adapting to Climate Change Influence Support for Mitigation?

Ignorance might be bliss, but it is affecting citizen’s willingness to support climate mitigation measures.  The following abstract from Environmental Communication (Vol 12 2018, Issue 7) shows that specific information about adaption costs, rather than dire warnings about catastrophic outcomes, is more effective in creating support for mitigation measures like petrol taxes.  This study was performed in the USA, but may well have some useful messages for all of us trying to make a difference and effect change that will help our communities weather a changing climate. 

Abstract:  Can information about adaptation costs influence citizens’ willingness to support climate change mitigation? Some scholars are concerned that policy discussions on adaptation might present climate change as a more manageable problem, and therefore crowd out mitigation efforts. On the other hand, providing information on adaptation costs may sensitize citizens to these costs, thereby increasing their willingness to support mitigation. To assess these conflicting predictions, we fielded a web-based survey experiment using a sample of 2,000 US-based respondents. We presented the respondents with a hypothetical newspaper article regarding a proposed gasoline tax (a mitigation strategy) and measured the support for this proposal across different treatment groups. In the control group, the respondents were told that failure to mitigate climate change could result in a potentially catastrophic outcome, whereas in each of the treatment groups the respondents were provided with information concerning possible adaptation costs. The respondents were then asked about their willingness to support a gasoline tax. Our key finding is that the provision of information about adaptation costs leads to a small increase in the respondents’ willingness to support mitigation efforts. Furthermore, we find that this effect becomes larger when the information regarding adaptation costs is made more specific.”