A Counter-Narrative to Carbon Supremacy: Do Leaders Who Give Up Flying Because of Climate Change Influence the Attitudes and Behaviour of Others?

99 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2018

See all articles by Steve Westlake

Steve Westlake

Cardiff University - School of Psychology

Date Written: October 2, 2017

Abstract

This research explores whether people who take a stand to give up flying because of climate change influence the attitudes and behaviour of others, and whether this could contribute to a shift away from unlimited flying as a social norm. A survey (n=380) distributed online and conducted face-to-face (n=32) found that around half of respondents who know someone who has given up flying because of climate change say they fly less because of this example. Furthermore, around three quarters say it has changed their attitudes towards flying and climate change in some way. The effects are increased if it is a high-profile person that is known to have given up flying, with around two thirds saying they fly less because of this person, and only 7% saying it has not affected their attitudes. Semi-structured interviews with people who have been influenced by such ‘leaders’ highlighted commitment and expertise as the leaders’ most significant influential qualities, while interviews with leaders themselves revealed their strategies for bringing about social change. The results of the research suggest that there is an ‘appetite for leadership’ when it comes to tackling emissions from aviation. Leading by example by giving up flying appears to send a powerful and effective message that, in combination with structural changes in transport provision and different policy signals from government, could contribute to a shift away from unlimited flying as a social norm, as part of a collective effort to reduce carbon emissions.

Keywords: climate change, leadership, leading-by-example, behaviour change, flying, aviation, public opinion, appetite for leadership

JEL Classification: Q00, Q54, Q01, Q30, Q31, Q38, Q5, Q56, Q58, O35, P48, R41, R48, Z30, Z38

Suggested Citation

Westlake, Steve, A Counter-Narrative to Carbon Supremacy: Do Leaders Who Give Up Flying Because of Climate Change Influence the Attitudes and Behaviour of Others? (October 2, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3283157 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3283157

Steve Westlake (Contact Author)

Cardiff University - School of Psychology ( email )

Cardiff CF10 3AT
United Kingdom

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