Examining climate change awareness and climate-friendly activities of urban residents: A case study in Košice

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Technická Univerzita v Liberci
Technical university of Liberec, Czech Republic
As the impact of climate change begins to be felt all around the world, the vulnerability of urban areas due to their population density, high concentration of economic activities and the altered characteristics of the physical environment is becoming increasingly apparent. As a result, cities will play a crucial role in tackling climate change by fostering mitigation activities and managing and coordinating the adaptation process. Research has shown that engagement and awareness among citizens is vital in the promotion of effective adaptation policies, but studies have also drawn attention to the significance of the so-called “awareness-action gap,” the absence of a direct link between awareness and action. This study contributes to the ongoing debate over the awareness-action nexus by discussing the factors that can affect the adaptation and mitigation activities of urban citizens using the Slovak city of Košice as a case study. Data was collected using a survey conducted with local residents as part of the preparations for the city’s first adaptation strategy on climate change. The paper uses a two-step analysis to investigate the socio-economic, psychological and contextual factors associated with climate change awareness and climate-friendly activities. The results of the standard linear regression model indicate that self-assessed vulnerability is a determining factor in both the level of climate change awareness and the likelihood of individuals to take action. In the second step, we find that the factors which influence engagement in climate-friendly activities differ depending on the costs involved in implementing the activities. The exploratory analysis conducted using a machine learning algorithm suggests that the awareness-action nexus may be non-linear in nature. The main findings of this study imply that communication strategies should place a primary emphasis on individuals’ vulnerability to the negative impacts of climate change. The paper contributes to the existing research by providing a case study of a generally under-researched geographical area of Central Europe. In addition, the analysis provides a specific context of urban area and implications for local policymakers, something that has been lacking the in literature looking primarily at data at the country level.
Climate change awareness, citizen engagement, awareness-action gap, vulnerability, economic aspects of adaptation