Climatic Change

, Volume 112, Issue 2, pp 507–522 | Cite as

A typology of dairy farmer perceptions towards climate change



Dairy farming is an industry which could potentially mitigate a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions. However, perception and acceptance towards climate change is a significant barrier to voluntary adoption of best practice techniques. A number of countries have set targets for reducing emissions, of which Scotland has one of the most ambitious agendas. This paper presents results from an extensive survey of 540 dairy farmers, conducted in 2009, with the aim of understanding attitudes, values and intentions towards climate change. Only half of these farmers agreed that temperatures would rise in the future and this could significantly hinder adoption of voluntary measures to meet emissions targets. To explore this further a typology was developed on the responses to attitude and value statements, using principal components and cluster analysis methods. Six distinct types were found to exist which had a range of outlooks towards the impact of climate change in the future. However, five of the six types stated no intention to adopt practices which would reduce emissions. The typology approach supports diversified engagement strategies and a more innovation-led or resource maximisation view towards farming was expressed by several of these types. This may indicate that policy makers should focus on ‘win-win’ technologies as a means to effectively engage with these. However, a number of types were disengaged from the process which was driven by uncertainties towards projections for global warming and this needs to be addressed by both scientists and policy makers to ensure greater participation within the farming community.



This paper was prepared under the Scottish Government RSD funded research programme ‘Economic Adaptation’ for which the authors are grateful. We thank David Roberts and Desiree Rohmer at the SAC Dairy Research Centre for helpful comments on the survey questions. We are grateful to the Scottish dairy farmers who took the time to complete the survey for us. We also thank two anonymous reviewers who provided very useful comments on the paper. All opinions expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Land Economy Research GroupSACEdinburghUK

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