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Exploring Farmers’ Climate Change Perceptions and Adaptation Intentions: Empirical Evidence from Austria
- Mitter, Hermine, Larcher, Manuela, Schönhart, Martin, Stöttinger, Magdalena, Schmid, Erwin
- Environmental management 2019 v.63 no.6 pp. 804-821
- climate change, cognition, farmers, farms, interviews, models, outreach, risk, Austria
- The lack of timely adaptation in agriculture may hamper prosperous farm developments by neglecting risks and opportunities emerging from climate change. Understanding farmers’ perceptual and socio-cognitive processes is key in order to encourage on-farm adaptation. We aim at investigating how farmers’ individual cognition on climate change and adaptation as well as socio-environmental context factors affect agricultural adaptation intention and avoidance. We build on the Model of Private Proactive Adaptation to Climate Change (MPPACC) and apply a qualitative interview approach in two Austrian farming regions. Twenty semi-structured interviews have been conducted with 29 farmers. Based on the results of the qualitative content analysis, we have identified four groups of farmers, which differ in the formation process of adaptation intention and avoidance: (i) climate change adaptors, (ii) integrative adaptors, (iii) cost-benefit calculators, and (iv) climate change fatalists. Farmers who are part of groups (i)–(iii) form adaptation intentions, whereas climate change fatalists do not intend to adapt. According to our analysis, adaptation intentions are only formed if farmers are aware of effective adaptation measures, accept personal responsibility for their farms, and evaluate adaptation costs positively (i.e. adaptation appraisal). Farmers’ climate change appraisal as well as farm and regional characteristics are also perceived relevant for farmers’ adaptation decisions but seem to be less important than adaptation appraisal. Therefore, we conclude that engagement strategies and outreach efforts need not only address risks and opportunities, but should also strengthen farmers’ self-responsibility and offer adaptation measures tailored to the regional characteristics and the farmers’ needs.