Presidential Initiative: Climate Change

Climate change is the biggest health threat in the 21st Century. This resource looks at the contributions psychology can make in better understanding and tackling this threat. How can psychology help us to stay engaged with the problem of climate change so we can participate in effective solutions? This resource was developed as the first in a series of three resources that look at how psychological science helps us understand and respond to big issues in society today. 

Climate Change: Insights from Psychological Science

APS Submissions


Statement of Commitment on Climate Change

In October, 2013, the APS signed the Statement of Commitment on Climate Change to protect the children of today and tomorrow from dangerous climate change.


In October, 2013, the APS signed the Statement of Commitment on Climate Change to protect the children of today and tomorrow from dangerous climate change.

The APS, through its membership of the Climate and Health Alliance, participates in a range of advocacy efforts to raise awareness about the health and mental health risks of climate change and the health benefits of emissions reductions.

The Climate and Health Alliance, on behalf of its member organisations, has signed the following Public Statements on climate and health issues.  Individuals and other organisations are welcome to add their signatures to these statements.

  • Statement of Commitment on Climate Change to protect the children of today and tomorrow from dangerous climate change.
    The Climate and Health Alliance and Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth are supporting a campaign to encourage all Australians to speak up in defence of children to protect them from dangerous climate change.
  • Doha Declaration calling for health to be central to national and global climate action.
    The international health and medical community have developed a joint statement outlining why health experts are extremely worried about slow progress on climate action, and highlights how the health co-benefits of emissions can build support for ambitious climate strategies.
  • Joint Statement on the health effects of Australia’s minerals and energy policy
    “The risks to human health from energy and resources policy are not being accounted for in current policy decisions. "Significant policy reform is needed to ensure health and wellbeing is not compromised by policy decisions in other sectors. Recognising the importance of the social and environmental determinants of health is an important part of that”.



Read more about how you can become involved in studying psychology and the environment.

Environmental psychology

Environmental psychology is a well-established area of applied psychology which has been going strong since the late 1960s, with specific environmental psychology journals, courses, textbooks, handbooks, and graduate programs.  Environmental psychology is not specifically focussed on natural environments.  Areas of specialisation within environmental psychology and bridging other disciplines include architectural psychology, urban and regional planning and design, environmental evaluation and impact assessment, environmental perception and cognition, restorative environments, place attachment and identity, clinical environmental psychology, disaster preparedness and response, conservation behaviour and sustainability initiatives, the effects of climate, and ergonomics.

While there are still only a few psychology programs in Australia offering studies in environmental psychology, the good news is that there are now many Australian psychologists working whose honours or postgraduate research focus was in an environmental psychology area, and who continue to conduct research or work in the field. 

Conservation psychology

Conservation psychology is the name of an area of applied psychology which has been more directly involved with conservation initiatives, targeted behaviour change to protect the natural environment, and people-animal-environment interactions. 

Universities where psychology students are studying environment related topics

University of New England   
UNE has an environmental psychology course, currently taught by Professor Don Hine.

University of Queensland    
UQ has an applied social psychology course in third and fourth year that covers environmental issues; they provide supervision for psychology Honours students to do environmental psychology Honours theses; supervision for Masters and PhD students in the area of environmental psychology.

University of Melbourne
Melbourne University has several psychology students doing Honours theses on environmental topics, supervised by Professor Yoshi Kashima.

The University of Melbourne School of Land and Environment
This school has an environmental psychology section. 

Griffith University
There is no course taught, but several PhD students are working on environmental psychology/climate change projects.

Southern Cross University
Psychology students are able to study environment related topics.

History of studying psychology and the environment

There was a time in the past when environmental psychology was taught across six to eight Schools of Psychology depending on the year (e.g.,University of Adelaide, UQ, ANU, Edith Cowan, JCU).  Many students went on to do postgraduate work in environmental psychology in Architecture and Planning Departments in Australia where there were environmental psychologists on staff, such as University of Sydney and QUT or went overseas to the United Kingdom (Surrey), the United States, or Canada where institutions had postgraduate coursework and thesis programs or streams in environmental psychology.

Psychologists' Stories

Learn more about what Australian psychologists working on environmental issues are doing.

To illustrate some of the many fields a psychologist interested in environmental issues can work in, the Australian Psychological Society has brought together some of its members to share their experiences.

The psychologists featured in these pages come from a variety of settings across Australia.

We hope that reading through this collection of environment-related occupations for psychologists will help you to reflect on your own career, values and priorities.

Re-visit this page soon to read more stories.