We need to rethink the words we use to discuss climate change. Many climate terms can numb people with fear instead of inspiring them into action, and proposes new language that will reframe our situation as an opportunity, rather than a crisis.
In partnership with the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, Potential Energy has carried out one of the broadest and most comprehensive global message testing studies ever conducted. They examined what moves and motivates people to support climate actions and specific pro-climate policies.
Climate Curious co-hosts Maryam Pasha and Ben Hurst chat to John about how we can really make climate “pop”: from using real and regular messengers (not politicians) to talking more about “stopping the top 100 polluters” rather than “stopping climate change” (too vague and conceptual), John shares the effective strategies that will get people engaged and fired up to take action. And, he reveals the number one message that is most effective across all demographics.
The dominant narrative to motivate business actors to take climate actions emphasizes opportunities to increase monetary gains, linking sustainability to the financial goals of these organizations. This study conducted an online, real-world, large-n experiment to evaluate the comparative effectiveness of different motivations using narrative communication. We show that non-monetary narratives highlighting prosocial or achievement motivations are 55% more effective in creating responses from businesses than narratives emphasizing monetary gains.
Conversations about climate change at the science-policy interface and in our lives have been stuck for some time. This handbook integrates lessons from the social sciences and humanities to more effectively make connections through issues, people, and things that everyday citizens care about. Readers will come away with an enhanced understanding that there is no 'silver bullet' to communications about climate change; instead, a 'silver buckshot' approach is needed, where strategies effectively reach different audiences in different contexts. This tactic can then significantly improve efforts that seek meaningful, substantive, and sustained responses to contemporary climate challenges.
Through extensive message testing, Potential Energy has gathered significant data on what works and does not work when talking about climate. This document outlines the learnings and suggestions on how to better communicate the threat of climate change, encourage people to demand action, and inspire them by the progress we’re already making.
Small island states are typically depicted in global media as desperately sinking or moments away from total annihilation due to climate change. But this is not the whole story - for decades some of the most climate vulnerable countries have been the loudest voices leading the climate movement and bringing about real change. As a native Tongan/Pacific Islander and communications specialist, Josephine Latu-Sanft, shares the historic role of small island states not merely as climate victims but as climate warriors.
In the aftermaths of hurricane Otis, reporter Emily Atking, calls on journalists and meteorologists to go one step further when reporting on disastrous weather phenomenons that are “connected to climate change" by including that these events are a symptom of fossil fuels, deforestation, and industrial agriculture. Being explicit about what’s causing the climate crisis provides readers with the knowledge they need to make truly informed decisions.
The fossil fuel industry’s growing campaign to brand gas as “clean energy” is no different from its old campaign to brand climate change as fake. Both were created to dampen public demand for effective climate policy. If news outlets “both sides” the issue of gas like they did climate science, they will once again be falling for an industry-created disinformation campaign designed to profit at the planet’s expense.
In March 2023 the UN released one of its scientific reports offering humanity a 'final warning' to avoid climate catastrophe - but it barely got any coverage. Podcast host Tom Heap explores the question: what is it about bleak climate assessments that can cause people to switch off? He talks to psychologist Dr Sander van der Linden why our brains struggle to process news that scares people and speaks to comedian Tom Walker, AKA Jonathan Pie, about using humour to get the point across.