Climate change, powerlessness and the commons dilemma

Climate change, powerlessness and the commons dilemma: Assessing New Zealanders’ preparedness to act
Christopher Aitken, Ralph Chapman, John McClure

Article available at: www.elsevier.com/locate/gloenvcha

Mitigating climate change is recognized as an increasingly urgent task that requires understanding a range of different strategies, including voluntary behaviour change. Among the psychological barriers to behavior change are perceptions of powerlessness and the commons dilemma. This paper examines the association between these factors in a sample of New Zealand citizens and clarifies their importance in relation to other barriers to action to mitigate climate change, including uncertainty and perceived risk.

Stronger perceptions of powerlessness and the commons dilemma were related to lower levels of action to mitigate climate change and lesser importance being placed upon climate change as an influence on individual actions. The perceived risk of climate change and the perception that humans influence climate change were the strongest predictors of mitigation action.