EFPA’s Expert Reference Group for Psychology and Climate Change

Climate Crisis and the Human Factor: 10 Psychological Keys to Unlocking Climate Action


Anthropogenic global climate change and its disruptive impact on ecosystems and communities around the world are subjects of widespread scientific consensus. The European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations (EFPA) has made climate change one of its priorities.

In this opinion paper, the EFPA Expert Reference Group for Psychology and Climate Change addresses what they consider to be the ten most important issues in the field of psychology and climate change, highlighting the role of psychology in mitigating and adapting to the climate crisis.

The socio-ecological model is presented as an approach effectively encompassing various determinants of pro-environmental behavior, engagement in climate action, and climate change-related mental health at the individual, social, organizational, and systemic levels. Sustainability serves as the general framework for understanding the role of psychology. While sustainable transformation is necessary, it may be challenging due to psychological and systemic barriers. These barriers can be overcome through collective actions and building collective efficacy. Diverse emotions play an important role in shaping individual and collective behaviors related to climate change; they contribute to both resilience and the deterioration of mental health at the individual and community levels.

In addition to internal mental processes, institutional, organizational and social mechanisms foster sustainable practices. Institutional, organizational, and societal mechanisms, alongside internal psychological processes, foster sustainable practices. Psychological research on these mechanisms and processes should inform strategies at the level of policy-making and environmental communication that are critical to shaping public perception and behavior.

A unified approach to psychological research and practice across individual, societal, organizational, and systemic levels is needed for a resilient response to climate and associated societal challenges.