Comparing two tourism-dependent, coastal communities and their opinions of local marine renewable energy projects

Date

2020-12

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Abstract

Increasing atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases, such as CO2 and CH4, have been linked to ocean acidification, rising temperatures, and overall climate change. To combat climate change a transition to more renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydrokinetic has been offered as part of the solution. However, most renewable energy projects are met with local opposition. Environmental communication campaigns have shown to be effective when done properly. The Integrative Model of Behavioral Prediction posits there are an infinite number of variables affecting behavior, but focusing on attitudes, social norms, and efficacy should allow campaign planners to determine factors that are most likely to change behavior. To that end, an elicitation study should be performed to determine which attitudes, beliefs, and norms are influential in a specific community. In order to accomplish this goal, in-depth interviews were conducted in two tourism-dependent, coastal communities in Florida. Twenty-five interviews suggested that local attitudes are driven by knowledge of local energy generation, familiarity with renewable energy sources, economics, NIMBY-ism, and politics. Perceived norms are driven by family, friends, and community influencer groups. Efficacy is driven by both self- and response efficacy beliefs regarding residents current environmentally friendly behaviors and the ability of business and government to support and implement such projects. One final driver of acceptance, place attachment, shows that projects should be compatible with how community members view their community. This research sets the stage for further testing of behavioral models in tourism-dependent, coastal communities to drive communication efforts focused on renewable energy acceptance. It also underscores the need for considering self- and response efficacy separately in future renewable energy acceptance research. Additionally, place attachment and cultural worldviews should be included in future acceptance research to boost the utility of the IMBP in the renewable energy context. Lastly, the research highlights the need for targeted, simplistic, and transparent messaging distributed through local channels within the studied communities further showing that best practices for renewable energy messaging varies by community.

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Keywords

Marine renewable energy, Local project, Community comparison

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