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A human rights approach to climate change: Examining the relationship between support for human rights and belief in climate change

Climate change impacts human rights, and Māori and other indigenous communities around the world are amongst those most vulnerable to its consequences. This has led the United Nations to recommend a human rights-based approach to climate action. However, no research has examined the relations between support for human rights and climate change beliefs, which is critical if such a rights-based approach is to receive widespread public backing. Here we investigate the cross-sectional and longitudinal relations between support for human rights and climate change beliefs/concern with data from the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study (N ≈ 17,656) using a combination of variable- and person-centred analyses. Cross-lagged results indicate support for the item regarding physical human rights had a more reliable bidirectional, longitudinal relationship with climate change beliefs/concern, compared to the item regarding economic human rights. A latent profile analysis revealed six distinct subgroups of New Zealanders, with climate change beliefs/concern differing between subgroups but with human rights support being consistently high. Lastly, latent transition analysis revealed that all but one of the subgroups were relatively unstable across the one-year period, but New Zealanders tended to move from profiles of lower climate beliefs/concern into profiles of higher climate beliefs/concern. Findings reveal novel implications for a rights-based climate change response.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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