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The Climate Connection: What's stopping us?

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Claudia Bradshaw Claudia Bradshaw | 10:29 UK time, Friday, 3 December 2010


This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 03 December 2010. Listen to the programme.

More than 190 countries are gathered in Cancun, Mexico for the latest round of UN climate talks. But expectations of making any progress are low. This journalist is convinced they will fail altogether.

If so many people across the globe accept that climate change is happening, why aren't we taking more action to tackle it? Is it something in our psychology or culture, a lack of leadership or a problem of economics?

As part of a series of programmes on the BBC called the Climate Connection, WHYS is asking: What's stopping us?

On today's show we'll hear from people working on ways of changing our behaviour to reduce our impact on the planet.

Guests include Noah Goldstein, one of the authors of 'YES!' whose research focuses on ways of getting people to do things by persuading them that their actions are either socially acceptable or unacceptable, like not re-using your towels when you stay in a hotel

We'll also speak to Annika Todd, a behavioural economist from Stanford University. In an email to me she outlines some of the things she's like to talk about on the show:

Why people aren't currently trying to save energy? Is it procrastination, monetary rewards that are too small and too far in the future, or lack of knowledge? There are methods that can be used to get people to change their energy behaviour - like incentive schemes, competition, games and information, and community based social marketing and I can talk about these. But an important question that gets lost in the discussion a lot of the time is whether it is socially the right thing to do to try to change people's energy behaviour in the first place - i.e. should governments spend money, and how much money, trying to persuade people to conserve energy - do we actually want that as a national policy?

But not everyone's a fan of this kind of approach.  Adam Curtis says:

modifying human behaviour in these ways raises serious political questions. Not just about individual freedom, but about who decides what is "good" behaviour, and what happens when others decide it is bad.

And some consider it a cheap way of avoiding regulation or raising taxes

We'll also speak to people who have participated in a survey by the BBC and the Public Insight Network from American Public Media, who have noticed signs of climate change where they live. People in over 80 countries have so far shared their observations and you can do so too - by clicking here. Here's some of the results already.

Post your questions for Noah or Annika here, and tell us what you think is stopping us from tackling climate change.

p.s. Here's an idea I like - it's about making things fun to get people to change their behaviour 'for the better'.

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