Behavioral tools of pandemic should be applied to climate policy - scientists

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People hold a banner during a protest at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain November 12, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

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WASHINGTON, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Lessons learned from the pandemic about shifting people's behavior will be applied to policies to counter climate change and disinformation in the future, leading scientists said Thursday.

Carlos Scartascini, from the Inter-American Development Bank, said behavioral tools became critical in the pandemic, in a panel at the Reuters Next conference.

"When you say 'wash your hands' - you can say (it) 20 times, but if you don't change the way you say people basically do not react," he said.

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Dr. Laura de Moliere, who heads up behavioral science in the UK Cabinet office, said a better understanding of human behavior became critical to policymakers in the pandemic, and that should carry forward.

"Climate change is probably quite an obvious one, where if we aren't designing rules and regulations well, we will be seeing rebound effects where people are insulating their houses, but then buying bigger houses because the energy is cheaper," she said.

She said transparency of decision making, central to COVID communication, would also be important for winning support for climate change policies.

"There's lots of really interesting avenues for behavioral science application that have arisen because of because of the pandemic," said Mary MacLennan, the cofounder of the United Nations Behavioral Science Group.

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Reporting by William James; writing by Merdie Nzanga

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