How to talk about climate change: A toolkit for encouraging collective action

For those working on achieving meaningful action about climate change, locally and internationally, effective communications can create hope, improve people’s understanding of the causes and solutions, open doors to collaboration between people, business and politicians, and motivate people to act in meaningful ways, to be agents of change. We can inspire our children, show them all that is possible when adults come together to work on understanding the problems, and building better systems for them and their children and the planet we live in partnership with.

Our communications must therefore have a sound evidential basis. We need to know they will be effective, ethical and have an impact in helpful ways. Mainstream climate communication has, to date, focussed heavily on fear, economic impacts, and led with facts. And while climate change is alarming, urgent, has significant economic repercussions, and requires people to think productively about the causes and solutions, inspiring action at the right level requires more than communicating the facts and the dangers. We need strategies grounded in the evidence of persuasive communication: the science of story. 

This toolkit is to help us use strategies that inspire hope, build connections between people, open doors to people developing more productive understandings of the causes of climate change, and encourages collective action on evidence-informed solutions, across local and international settings. We have drawn on many disciplines from cognitive psychology, implementation science through to cognitive linguistics. The science of story takes us beyond repetition of the facts and framing of fears, and into the realms of storytelling with science.

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