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Environmental attitudes and travel behavior of youth

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Title: Environmental attitudes and travel behavior of youth
Author: Tse, Yat Ching Cindy
Degree Master of Applied Science - MASc
Program Civil Engineering
Copyright Date: 2012
Publicly Available in cIRcle 2012-10-18
Abstract: Environmental problems relating to transportation have increased in severity in many cities within Canada. Reduction in emissions generated from the transport sector will require far reaching technological advances as well as behavioral shifts by the population. This study is carried out with a focus on influencing youths to increase the use of sustainable transportation. Studying the attitudes of young people towards the environment is important given they will be the ones affected by environmental issues arising from our current actions and consequently will be the individuals who will ultimately have to come up with resolutions. In preparation to address future transportation issues, it is critical to conduct researches with a focus on children and young people as attitudes toward the environment begin to develop in childhood. This study surveyed over 1000 students from 11 secondary schools in Richmond, Canada and Vancouver, Canada. The purpose of the survey is to examine the relationship between environmental knowledge, environmental attitudes and travel behavior. Structural equation models (SEMs) were used to quantify environmental attitudes as latent variables, as well as to examine the relationship between environmental knowledge, attitudes and travel behavior while controlling demographic and socioeconomic variables. The results indicate that 1) Students who have better knowledge on environmental issues hold higher levels of proenvironmental attitudes; 2) Students who use active transportation, public transit and school buses to/from school have stronger pro-environmental attitudes than students who travel to/from school by car; 3) Environmental attitude is found to be a mediating variable between environmental knowledge and travel behavior; and 4) Environmental knowledge has a significant impact on the relationship between environmental attitudes and travel behavior. Based on these findings, it is evident that continual improvement of the environmental education curriculum is needed. It is recommended that the curriculum should not be limited to knowledge-based education on transportation. Rather, it should include activities that will help induce a positive environmental attitude. It was also found that social media and school courses are major sources of environmental information for the students. Therefore, educational institutes, government, environmental NGOs should continue to leverage these channels to effectively disburse information.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/43481
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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