Stories of Hope: Eco-Emotions in Transitions to Net Zero

PI: Elizabeth Marks (Bath)

Co-Is: Jesse Abrams (Exeter), Ed Atkins (Bristol), Jo Garrett (Exeter), David Shackleton (Cardiff)

This innovative project will use co-creation, multi-institutional, interdisciplinary collaboration with GW4 researchers in psychology, geography, environmental biology, earth science and English literature (DS) and young people (aged 16-18) in local schools. We will develop and pilot a workshop exploring eco-emotions, hope and sustainable action. Eco-emotions are understandable responses to climate change, including grief, fear, shame, anger and guilt. Relevant to ‘Transitions to Net Zero’, eco-emotions either lead to sustainable behaviours or are paralysing. Talking about eco-emotions can help, but young people are often excluded from such conversations by adults. This socially constructed silence exacerbates fear and demoralisation. Bearing witness to eco-emotions whilst finding hope could help.

Eco-emotions indicate humanity’s care for the world; acknowledging them is the first step towards a hopeful future. Hope is a motivational response to eco-emotions, including values-based goals, a realistic expectation of positive possibilities, and an action plan recognising challenges and abilities. Motivation and capability are key aspects of behavioural change and are supported by hope. 

 This pilot project will investigate eco-emotions, hope and sustainable action in young people. The aim is to have a positive impact on those involved, to connect with others in the region, and create a narrative of hope in transitions to net zero.