Although not considered in climate models, perceived risk stemming from extreme climate events may induce behavioural changes that alter greenhouse gas emissions. Here, we link the C-ROADS climate model to a social model of behavioural change to examine how interactions between perceived risk and emissions behaviour influence projected climate change. Our coupled climate and social model resulted in a global temperature change ranging from 3.4–6.2 °C by 2100 compared with 4.9 °C for the C-ROADS model alone, and led to behavioural uncertainty that was of a similar magnitude to physical uncertainty (2.8 °C versus 3.5 °C). Model components with the largest influence on temperature were the functional form of response to extreme events, interaction of perceived behavioural control with perceived social norms, and behaviours leading to sustained emissions reductions. Our results suggest that policies emphasizing the appropriate attribution of extreme events to climate change and infrastructural mitigation may reduce climate change the most.
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This work resulted from a working group jointly supported by both the National Institute for Mathematical Biological Synthesis—a synthesis centre sponsored by the National Science Foundation through award DBI-1300426 with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville—and the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center under funding received from National Science Foundation award DBI-1052875. B.B., J.M.W. and A.Z. additionally acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation through Vermont Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research grant numbers EPS-1101317 and OIA-1556770.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
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Beckage, B., Gross, L.J., Lacasse, K. et al. Linking models of human behaviour and climate alters projected climate change. Nature Clim Change 8, 79–84 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-017-0031-7
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