Communicating on climate change is all about educating and mobilizing audiences to take action to confront the climate crisis. So this is a key factor in the fight against it. But our language should be shaped by different experiences, cultural contexts, and underlying values.
Our recommendations for an effective communication based on our research
Misinformation and disinformation are widespread on the issue of climate change – and they are major obstacles towards progress in tackling the climate crisis. Deceptive or misleading content distorts the perception of climate science and can create confusion, and often leads to delays in action or even harmful action. As we found for young people, social networking sites are significantly more popular than television, or news sites, when it comes to getting information about climate change.
Why is good communication important?
We need all hands on deck. Literally. The goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, and halving them by 2030. This is a big plan which requires nothing less than a complete transformation of how we produce, consume, and move about.
Who is responsible?
We asked the question in our survey, and found out that a majority of people want their governments and companies to take action and most citizens in advanced economies are willing to make changes in their own lives.
Our recommendations is to use authoritative scientific information
Continuous education at schools is important: collaboration between teachers, authorities and experts, and focus on developing new habits. Providing support on individual, local, global levels is necessary.
Message content and tone of voice
High awareness of the harmful, irreversible consequences – showing the connection between recent crises in Europe and impact on the environment (cause and effect) in an objective way may also increase relevance and involvement
Focus on actions, positive outcomes – show how everyday actions contribute to slowing down climate change / Even tiny steps matter; Communicate what concrete actions can be taken for the specific region, location
Show how climate friendly choices may be beneficial for individuals, e.g., reduce financial expenses – what the opportunities are, and how much effort can actually be behind those opportunities: to dispel fears that being environmentally aware takes time, money and extra energy, and focus on the positive consequences.
Increase sense of belonging, acknowledgement, recognition and encouragement/reassurance of environmental-friendly behavior; convey the message that living green is hip, cool.
Use public media and other trusted media to enhance credibility of information campaigns – and increase media presence of the topic of climate change, putting it back to the foreground
Use NGOs and competent/popular and widely accepted/credible people/celebrities to provide transparent information. Avoid presenting issues in too loud, tabloid style, and avoid very negative tone and exaggerations – it must be noted that the perceived credibility of media and willingness to consume information is lower versus 2021
- Why does the younger generation in 2023 feel disappointed, skeptical and pessimistic about climate change?
- How do women and men feel about climate change? Are there any differences between the genders?
- What actions do I need to do against climate change? Is what I do important?
- How big is the problem?
- Who is responsible for climate change?
Those are the questions we discuss further in our blog series.
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If you are interested in the whole survey, you can find it here.