In response to calls from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for wide-scale societal and political changes and to develop stronger capacity for climate change engagement, the UK-based Climate Communication Project suggests how climate change issues can be communicated more effectively.
The report makes the case for a shift towards more specialist, targeted engagement, beyond broad engagement activities based around general public audiences.
Through an ‘audit’ survey of UK climate communications practitioners and a one-day ‘expert elicitation’ workshop, the Climate Communication Project set out to unpick some important questions:
What should be the aim of engagement on climate change? What principles should underpin the way that engagement is carried out? And, crucially, is the science of climate communication settled?
The report is intended to act as a ‘barometer’ for the current state of UK climate engagement. It provides best practice recommendations for anyone who wants to engage the public with climate change and illustrates that there is no single reason motivating climate change communication.
Instead, a cluster of factors influence how engagement on climate change takes place.
The report argues that many climate communications activities typically use a ‘speaker-listener’ lecture-style format when more creative engagement approaches may be more successful. They also tend to target the general public quite broadly rather than appealing directly to different kinds of people.
The report argues that climate communicators need to do more to engage different types of people and win over hearts and minds and suggests ways that communicators can be more engaging when communicating around climate change issues.
Above all, before any engagement is planned, they should find out what the audience already knows and tailor activity around these insights. What are their values, beliefs and attitudes? Connecting with what matters to an audience, using shared language and ensuring participation by credible communicators who are able to connect with the audience’s interests is key.
Making engagement activity relevant and familiar and showing how it will affect an audience directly (for instance, by making links to human health, politics, and everyday activities) will help inspire action on climate change.
Read the Climate Communication Project report.