New Study: Highlighting Co-Benefits Helps Motivate Climate Action

blog-co-benefits of solutions-10.8.15In our climate communications research, we’ve learned that emphasizing the co-benefits of climate solutions can make people more likely to support climate action. This is true whether or not a person believes climate change is happening. A new study recently published in Nature Climate Change echoes those findings. In a survey of 6,000 people from 24 countries, co-benefits were found to be a consistent influence in the motivation to act on climate.
As this Guardian article explains, co-benefits are the advantages climate solutions provide above and beyond helping to fight climate change. These extra benefits can include better air quality, improved public health, economic growth, and energy independence. The study found that the ability of co-benefits to influence people’s actions is independent of political ideology, age, and gender, which is why the authors say “communicating co-benefits could motivate action on climate change where traditional approaches have stalled.”
For more tips on successful climate engagement, read our report, Connecting on Climate: A Guide to Effective Climate Communication.

Emphasizing Co-benefits Motivates People to Take Action on Climate Change

By John Abraham, contributor to the Guardian
A study shows people are more likely to support climate action if they know about the many extra benefits of doing so.
A new paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change provides encouragement that people can be motivated to act on climate change. The title of the paper is, “Co-benefits of Addressing Climate Change can Motivate Action Around the World.” Lead author Dr. Paul Bain and his colleagues wanted to know if emphasizing co-benefits when talking about climate change would motivate people to take action. They found that in many cases, the answer is yes.
First of all, what are co-benefits? Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Joel Pett provided some good examples in this cartoon.
Let’s say that you design a city so that there are green spaces and parks in a hope that you will reduce pollution. You might find out that the green spaces and parks cool the city, provide places of recreation and exercise, and generally improve the quality of life beyond merely pollution. These would be called co-benefits; they are extra benefits you get from your action.
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Image credit: REX/Imaginechina/REX/Imaginechina

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