Evangelizing Climate Change

61 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2008 Last revised: 23 Aug 2008

See all articles by Albert Lin

Albert Lin

University of California, Davis - School of Law

Date Written: August 2008


Any effective response to climate change must address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from individuals, who are responsible for nearly one-third of total annual emissions. A leading proposal for doing so, developed by Michael Vandenbergh and Anne Steinemann, advocates the disclosure of information about an individual's emissions, resulting harms, and steps that can be taken to reduce emissions. Providing information on individuals' contribution to climate change will be important in countering common misconceptions that individual activities do not matter to the environment. Such proposals, however, give insufficient attention to the role of personal values. Values matter to efforts to change individual behavior in at least two important ways. First, values underlie beliefs and norms, providing motivations for behavior. Because behavioral norms such as environmental protection are far from universal, efforts to change behavior will have to operate at a deeper level and tap into altruism and other values. Second, values influence how individuals process risk-related information. Efforts to provide individuals with information about GHG emissions and climate change must account for the effect of values on risk perception. This Article proposes a climate change strategy that accounts for the role of values in behavior and examines steps for motivating changes within a particular community, American evangelicals. The suggested steps are patterned after evangelical techniques, which in turn can inform efforts to achieve behavioral change in the broader public.

Keywords: climate change, global warming, environment, natural resources, evangelicals, behavior, behavioral change, individuals, values

JEL Classification: K32

Suggested Citation

Lin, Albert, Evangelizing Climate Change (August 2008). UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 145, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1142919 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1142919

Albert Lin (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - School of Law ( email )

Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall
Davis, CA CA 95616-5201
United States

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