Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions Policies: Attitudinal and Social Network Influences On Employee Acceptability
The UK is required to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent from 1990 levels, by 2050. Greenhouse gas emissions attributed to the UK higher education sector have increased by 34.5 per cent from 1990 to 2005. Higher education institutions have a unique role in the UK greenhouse gas emissions inventory, beyond management of their own estates and compliance with policy and legislation, higher education institutions have responsibilities as innovators and educators, inspiring students and employees through example and best practice. This study sought to understand acceptability of greenhouse gas emissions reduction policies among employees of a higher education institution. The value-belief-norm theory was used in a questionnaire to understand individual attitudinal factors thought to influence policy acceptability (N=405). Recognising that an employee’s attitudinal factors may be influenced by their work colleagues, this study used social network analysis to understand the social context within which individual attitudinal factors sit. Support was found for higher education institutions to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Employees found policies that encouraged desired behaviours, such as assistance with train travel costs and working from home, to be more acceptable than policies that discouraged undesired behaviours, such as doubling the price of a car-parking permit. Support was found for the structure and content of the value-belief-norm theory, but logistic regression suggested that it provided a weak explanation of employee policy acceptability, indicating that other factors may have a greater role. Analysis of workplace social networks suggested that employees have small social groups (x̅=8) and do not select to be close to colleagues that reflect their own perspectives. Practitioners and policymakers should seek to address this void in environmental social norms through recruitment of more environmental champions to deliver strong and persuasive pro-environmental messages.
- PhD