The attitudes of young people towards transport in the context of climate change
Line, T. (2008) The attitudes of young people towards transport in the context of climate change. PhD, University of the West of England.
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It has been argued that a key component of tackling climate change is to reduce our reliance on the car. In response, it is put forward by this thesis that influencing young people before they develop a ‘car habit’ would appear crucial and that a more in-depth understanding of the attitudes of young people towards transport and climate change is key to the framing of policy and transport initiatives. This thesis reveals key findings from an exploratory study involving a series of small group discussions with young people before and just after the point of licence acquisition. It investigates the participants’ attitudes towards transport modes, their willingness to tackle climate change and the extent to which their willingness to tackle this issue does, or has the potential to, influence their current and, more importantly, future intended travel behaviour. A number of findings were made by the research, most prominently the complexity of and interrelation between the factors influencing the attitudes of young people towards transport and its impact on climate change and the need for policy and initiatives aimed at influencing young people away from an intention to drive (towards an intention to use more environmentally friendly modes), to take an holistic approach in their development. At the same time, it was found that the participants are currently subject to a range of sources of information, and at times mixed messages, about this issue. Further to this, it was found that image, identity and materialism are central to the values expressed by the participants in relation to transport modes, and in turn their emotional responses towards the same. These factors are reflected in the participants’positive attitude towards the car in favour of more environmentally friendly modes and the dominance of this mode in their current and, more importantly, intended travel behaviour. Gaining the ability to drive was found to act as a key life-stage with respect to the participants’ self-identity and role-identity as a driver in particular. However, it also became clear that, although they lack a sound understanding of climate change and they expressed a lack of ‘front of mind’ concern about this issue (in that they understood it is a serious environmental problem but are not ‘concerned’ about it), a number of participants (of all ages, each gender and including those able to drive) were accepting of the idea of enforced behaviour change.
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