The attitudes of young people towards transport in the context of climate change

Project details

Full project title: The attitudes of young people towards transport in the context of climate change

Sponsor: Faculty of the Built Environment (now known as the College of Arts, Technology and Environment), UWE Bristol

Research student: Tilly Line

Supervisory team: Dr Kiron Chatterjee and Professor Glenn Lyons

Start date: October 2004

Finish date: December 2007

Project briefing sheet: Download the briefing sheet document (PDF)

Project summary

It has been argued that a key component of tackling climate change is to reduce our reliance on the car. In response, it was put forward by this study that influencing young people before they develop a 'car habit' is crucial. Consequently, the attitudes of young people 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 were investigated.

The research involved a series of small group discussions and photography with young people before and just after the point of licence acquisition (11 to 18 years).

It was found that the participants are currently subject to a range of sources of information, and at times mixed messages, about transport and climate change. Further, 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 were 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, future intended travel behaviours.

However, it was also revealed that, although they lack a sound understanding of climate change and expressed a lack of 'front of mind' concern about this issue, a number of the participants (of all ages, each gender and including those able to drive) were accepting of the idea of enforced travel behaviour change in light of the impact of transport on climate change.