A Research Overview

Ethnicity a factor in environmental attitudes? September 1

September 7, 2016 0 Comments

Ethnicity may play a role in people’s attitudes and actions towards protecting the environment, a Lincoln University study has found.
The study, carried out by Environmental Economics Professor Geoff Kerr, Environmental Management Professor Ken Hughey and Emeritus Professor Ross Cullen, examines the differences in environmental attitudes and behaviours between New Zealanders of varying ethnic groups and birthplaces.
“Our results show that Māori are significantly more likely than New Zealand Europeans to be concerned about the state of the environment and participate in pro-environmental behaviours,” says Professor Kerr.
“Consistent with their adverse impressions of the state of the environment, Māori were more likely than Europeans born here to have obtained environmental information, commuted by bus or train, been active in environmental restoration, reduced electricity and water consumption, and other pro-environmental behaviours.
“Māori are generally less supportive of non-recreational land uses than the rest of the community.”
The study also showed that other New Zealand-born citizens of non-European descent had less positive views about the state of the environment than New Zealand-born Europeans and were more frequent participants in environmentally positive activities.
Interactions between birthplace and ethnicity were consistent as well.
Non-Europeans born overseas had significantly more positive views of the state of the environment than non-Europeans born in New Zealand.
“Non-European immigrants were shown to have the most favourable opinions about the state of the environment, which could present a challenge, as they may be less willing to undertake activities to avoid or mitigate environmentally harmful activities.”
Professor Kerr says it is important to identify such differences to predict the potential effects of future immigration and ethnic composition changes, which may present policy challenges.
“If some groups of people are less concerned about protecting the environment than others, this could thwart attempts to reduce environmental impacts.
“Policy and legal implications of the Treaty of Waitangi, which requires Māori perspectives to be incorporated into environmental decision-making, make these findings directly relevant to the Government, politicians, and environmental policymakers. This legislation means due weight must be given to the adverse environmental perceptions of Māori, who judge the environment to be in relatively poor condition, even though they are a minority.”

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