The COVID-19 pandemic has created sudden, rapid, and unprecedented change in almost every possible aspect of the general population's behavior. Despite its devastating consequences, the COVID-19 pandemic can alter individual behavior towards responsible environmental actions. This study provides an in-depth analysis of how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed pro-environmental beliefs and behavior. We compare pre-COVID-19 recycling and consumption reduction with post-COVID-19 intentions, focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic's role in catalyzing the change. The protection motivation theory is applied to investigate threat appraisal and coping appraisal as potential motivators for taking climate change more seriously and engaging in pro-environmental behavior. A tailor-made survey carried out during the national lockdown imposed in March–April 2020 in Israel served for the analysis. A generalized ordered probit estimated on a sample of 296 respondents served to validate the behavioral model. The results confirm that threat and coping appraisal are drivers of behavioral change towards pro-environmental behavior. The results show that: i) 40% of low-intensity recyclers are likely to increase recycling compared to 20% of high-intensity recyclers; ii) following the COVID-19 outbreak, 40% intend to consume less; iii) the changes are catalyzed by threat and coping appraisal; iv) taking climate change more seriously following the pandemic is a function of the individual's perceived association between COVID-19 and climate change, external knowledge, income loss due to the pandemic, self-resilience, and ecocentric beliefs; v) self-resilient attitudes lead to positive behavioral change, while anthropocentric beliefs impede changes towards sustainable behavior.
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© 2020 Elsevier B.V.
- Consumption reduction
- Environmental behavior change
- Sustainable consumption