P. Devine-Wright; G. Christoph; C. Mouro; G. Huebner (chair); T.R. von Wirth & R. Seidl.

My neighbourhood, my country or my planet? Investigating the influence of multiple place attachments upon climate change concern, attitudes to electricity infrastructures and intentions to protest local siting

P. Devine-Wright & S. Batel

Research into public engagement with climate change has already emphasized the importance of political ideology and environmental worldviews. More recently, the contribution of concepts from the study of people-place relations, for example place attachment, has begun to be recognised. For instance, a recent Australian study showed the importance of the interplay between national and global place attachments. Individuals expressing a stronger sense of belonging to the Earth as a whole than to Australia were more likely to attribute climate change to anthropogenic causes, and to hold higher levels of concern in comparison to individuals indicating stronger national over global place attachments. The aim of this study was to replicate and extend these findings in a UK context by capturing place attachments at local (neighbourhood), national and global levels, drawing on questionnaire data from a representative sample of 1519 adults. Findings show that place attachment was strongest at the national level, with positive correlations from neighborhood to global levels. Participants were grouped according to their relative strength of attachment at local, national and global scales. Individuals with stronger global than national or local place attachments indicated significantly higher levels of climate change concern, replicating the finding from the Australian study. These individuals were also more likely to support transformations of the energy system both towards decentralized energy systems and the creation of a European ‘supergrid’. Individuals stronger on local than national or global attachments were least supportive of new power lines and most likely to intend to oppose them. The socio-demographic correlates of each grouping, the implications of the findings for future research are discussed.

How homogeneous (or heterogeneous) are they? Citizens’ expectations for Black Forest National Park

G. Christoph, B. Böhr, & K. Ensinger

To develop a public-oriented participatory program, it might be beneficial to bring together different expectations held by the broader public (Rogers, 2008). Our aim was to explore a wide range of public expectations associated with the Black Forest National Park in Germany as well as seeking for groups in regard to these expectations. A representative sample of 1000 citizens of the federal state Baden-Wuerttemberg were asked to give information on their expectations as well as on individual characteristics. We applied a person-oriented latent class analysis to examine different types of expectancy patterns. Individual variables were used in order to explain interindividual differences in these expectancy-patterns. Results showed a three-class solution to be the most suitable due to statistical indicators as well as item-related interpretation. Three different groups could be identified in regard to persons’ response behaviour on expectations associated with Black Forest National Park. Further, class membership varied by persons’ status, voluntary engagement as well as positive attitudes towards environmental awareness. The results shed light on interindividual differences in public expectations for an environmental project such as Black Forest National Park. It illustrates that such projects are faced with different not direct observable groups within the broader public.

Psychosocial processes in community resistance to law-regulated practices: testing a stage model for predicting biodiversity conservation behaviours

C. Mouro, P. Castro, & L. Bettencourt 

Communities are routinely compelled to change through new laws. Some laws – like those promoting biodiversity conservation – are often resisted, but community-level processes involved in resistance are not always explicitly examined. Moreover, integration of new laws into community routines often takes (a long) time, yet few people-place studies consider that change happens in stages. We adopt the Trans-Theoretical Model(TTM) to examine stages of behavioral change in legally-framed conservation behaviours. A survey to a representative sample of residents in Natura2000 sites inspected predictors like social norms to extend the TTM to community-level processes. We tested the assumption that as individuals become aware of distinct positions in the community, norm misalignment can be linked to more ambivalence, reinforcing its role in delaying action. The results provide evidence of the stages where the normative conflicts – between social norms, and between those and the law/formal norm – are stronger, and compare levels of ambivalence of residents perceiving high vs. low conflicting norms. We also tested if this pattern is accentuated for residents with stronger place attachment. The discussion focus on the interplay between new laws, social norms and place bonds for advancing environmental conservation, and on how a stage perspective contributes to improve the design and implementation of conservation laws at local sites.

What motivates retrofitting? Results of a nationally representative sample in Great Britain

G. M. Huebner, M. Fell, & D. Shipworth

Energy use in buildings is one of the largest contributors to total energy consumption. The UK Government established the goal of reducing carbon emissions from homes by 29% by 2020, with energy efficiency improvements forming a central part of the plans. However, the recent ‘Green Deal’ policy to promote energy-efficiency measures in homes through financial incentives had very little uptake. In a nationally representative survey, we assessed framing effects on the hypothetical uptake of free home insulation provided by the energy supplier. The frames tested were: (1) monetary savings, (2) a warmer home, (3) carbon savings, (4) health benefits, and (5) social norms. The option emphasizing monetary savings was associated with significantly higher likeliness to take up the offer than any of the other options, which all received similar mean ratings. Higher trust in the energy supplier was associated with higher likeliness to participate in the scheme. Financial benefits seem to be the greatest incentive for retrofit measures, supporting policy based on them. In this context we critically discuss the apparent failure of the Green Deal, and suggest how the importance of trust in the energy supplier could be used in the future.

Exploring the social acceptance of multi-energy hub systems on neighborhood scale - theoretical considerations and empirical insights from Switzerland

R. Seidl & T. von Wirth

Decentralized (i.e. on neighbourhood-scale) “multi-energy hubs” are put forth as promising way to leverage renewable energy production. These systems integrate various sorts of renewable sources, small-scale natural-gas-based combined heat and power production, and comprise methods for energy storage, and active demand side management. However, particularly the implementation of an energy hub within an existing neighbourhood context represents a contested technological innovation affecting diverse social actors in specific ways. Profound knowledge about the social acceptance and risk perception towards such multi-energy hubs is virtually inexistent, although there exists literature on acceptance of single technologies. Yet, local acceptance of the combined technologies involved in a multi-energy hub is essential for making a noteworthy impact on the energy transition. This study explores the potential acceptability and risk perception for three multi-energy hub case studies in Switzerland. Following a systematic literature review and a series of qualitative expert interviews, the study enhances the conceptual understanding of social acceptance by further elaborating on the roles of proximity and attachment to places. The perceived benefits and risks are differentiated by local actor groups disclosing their potential conflict conditions and illustrating relevant criteria for hub implementation, which go beyond the acceptability of single technologies.