A-15/22 Climate considerations aside: What really matters for farmers in their implementation of climate mitigation measures

Writers: Maja Farstad, Anders Mahlum Melås and Laurens Klerkx

The implementation of climate mitigation measures at the farm level is highly dependent on farmers' willingness to make adjustments to their farms. While many studies have identified various barriers to climate mitigation in agriculture – among them farmers’ weak interest in climate – there has been less research focused on the different kinds of influences actually leading to the decisions and acts of implementing relevant measures. Hence, we undertook a qualitative investigation of eight Norwegian farms that have employed a range of such measures. Most importantly, our findings show that climate considerations are not an essential driver among farmers who have implemented relevant measures. Instead, climate mitigation measures are mainly perceived as, treated as, and appreciated for offering (farm-beneficial) functions other than climate change mitigation. Consequently, our study displays an opportunity for diffusion of technology and practices often believed to be curbed by the lack of climate-oriented farmers. Further, our findings point to a range of shared, favourable, contextual conditions (robust farm economy/economies of scale; sufficient time for farming; prospects for farm continuation; relevant subsidy schemes; beneficial climate and topography) enabling the implementation of climate mitigation measures on the involved farms. This reflects the reduced ability of farmers to act in climate-beneficial ways when these conditions are absent or exist with a negative sign. The mutual dependency between intrinsic drivers and enabling contextual conditions underlines the need for both research and development strategies that consider the entire picture. This would include targeting both critical enabling conditions for farmers and the message framing employed to promote climate-beneficial changes at the farm level.

Journal of Rural Studies, Volume 96, December 2022, Pages 259-269, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2022.11.003

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