Concern and Helplessness: Citizens’ Assessments of Individual and Collective Action on the Provision of Environmental Public Goods in a Coastal City at Risk of Inundation.

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Survey data from a representative sample of 1005 households in the UK coastal city of Portsmouth are examined to discern commonalities and contrasts in their assessment of actions to address the related environmental threats of climate change and flooding. The city of Portsmouth is at risk of inundation from rising sea levels and the city has recent experience of flooding. A simple local and global public good framework is used to organise the understanding of reported attitudes and their determinants. The findings show that it is not always the same individuals who express concern about both climate change and flooding. Investigation into perceptions of helplessness in tackling climate change indicates that individuals more often perceived themselves to be helpless in tackling climate but perceived local collective action to be more effective. Individuals considered local collective action to be more effective in tackling climate change. Perceptions of individual helplessness are in turn related to reported concern. Several socioeconomic characteristics of individuals are shown to be useful in explaining the determinants of concern and perceptions of helplessness among respondents. As other cities face climate change related challenges, the empirical findings, based upon attitudes from an alert urban population are informative to policy design.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-445
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number3
Early online date29 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2016



  • Climate change
  • Global public goods
  • Local public goods
  • Flood prevention
  • Coastal city.

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