Using the COVID-19 economic crisis to frame climate change as a secondary issue reduces mitigation support

Ullrich K.H. Ecker, Lucy H. Butler, John Cook, Mark J. Hurlstone, Tim Kurz, Stephan Lewandowsky

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterOtherpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


The COVID-19 pandemic has understandably dominated public discourse, crowding out other important issues such as climate change. Currently, if climate change enters the arena of public debate, it primarily does so in direct relation to the pandemic. In two experiments, we investigated (1) whether portraying the response to the COVID-19 threat as a “trial run” for future climate action would increase climate-change concern and mitigation support, and (2) whether portraying climate change as a concern that needs to take a “back seat” while focus lies on economic recovery would decrease climate-change concern and mitigation support. We found no support for the effectiveness of a trial-run frame in either experiment. In Experiment 1, we found that a back-seat frame reduced participants’ support for mitigative action. In Experiment 2, the back-seat framing reduced both climate-change concern and mitigation support; a combined inoculation and refutation was able to offset the drop in climate concern but not the reduction in mitigation support.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101464
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Climate action
  • Climate change communication
  • COVID-19
  • Framing
  • Mitigation support

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