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  • Writer's pictureBilly Richards

What is Environmental Procrastination?


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Environmental procrastination is a term that I use to describe the tendency to delay or avoid taking action on climate change, often by using excuses or rationalizations.



Some examples of environmental procrastination are:


  • Criticizing voluntary carbon standards as insufficient or inaccurate, and rejecting them as a viable solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Claiming that current technologies are not enough to tackle the climate crisis, and waiting for future innovations to solve the problem.

  • Denying or downplaying the urgency and severity of climate change, and ignoring the scientific evidence and consensus.

  • Shifting the responsibility and blame to others, such as governments, corporations, or individuals, and expecting them to act first or more.


Environmental procrastination is bad because it prevents or delays the implementation of effective measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change, which could have significant negative impacts on the environment, society, and economy. Some of the consequences of environmental procrastination are:


  • Increasing the risk of irreversible and catastrophic changes in the climate system, such as tipping points, feedback loops, and extreme weather events.

  • Reducing the chances of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, such as limiting the global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.

  • Worsening the effects of climate change on human health, food security, water availability, biodiversity, and human rights.

  • Missing the opportunities and benefits of a low-carbon transition, such as creating green jobs, enhancing innovation, improving air quality, and reducing inequality.


There is some supporting evidence for the concept of environmental procrastination from various sources, such as:


  • A study by Nordby et al. (2017) that found that environmental factors, such as the lack of structure and freedom in the study situation, can facilitate and augment academic procrastination in students[^10^].

  • A book by Ferrari et al. (2018) that explored the psychological and behavioral aspects of chronic procrastination, and how they relate to environmental issues, such as clutter, waste, and consumption.

  • A report by the UN Environment Programme (2019) that warned that the world is heading for a 3.2°C temperature rise by the end of the century, unless drastic and urgent actions are taken to cut emissions.

  • A speech by Greta Thunberg (2019) at the UN Climate Action Summit, that criticized the leaders for their inaction and empty promises on climate change, and urged them to act now.



(1) Do procrastination-friendly environments make students delay unnecessarily?. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2017-31043-001.

(2) From ridicule to hero: The history of the eco-warrior - BBC Three. https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/c5c82250-9aad-4533-9a3f-43cf37e27d46.

(4) Verified Carbon Standard - Verra. https://verra.org/programs/verified-carbon-standard/.

(5) The unavoidable hypocrisy of eco-activism - Shout Out UK. https://www.shoutoutuk.org/2020/02/24/the-unavoidable-hypocrisy-of-eco-activism/.

(7) Verified Carbon Standard - Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verified_Carbon_Standard.

(8) Voluntary Carbon Standard Version 1 for Consultation.doc. https://verra.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Voluntary-Carbon-Standard-Version-1.pdf.

(9) Voluntary Carbon Standard - Global Greenhouse Warming. http://www.global-greenhouse-warming.com/voluntary-carbon-standard.html.

(10) Procrastinators and Clutter: An Ecological View of Living with .... https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12144-017-9682-9.

(11) Do procrastination-friendly environments make students delay .... https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11218-017-9386-x.

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