Communicating Climate Change conference

30th August 2019

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Jared King

Many things must be taken into consideration for effective communication on climate change: the critical importance of framing; understanding the audience and their values; the balance between fear and more positive (solution-focused) messages; the importance of science, facts and timescales; finding relevance and considering images; adaptation messages, for example around the impacts we will experience; and branding, marketing and embedding climate change directly and indirectly to mainstream audiences.

In June, these and many other considerations were explored at a conference organised jointly by IEMA's Climate Change and Energy Network and the British Psychological Society's (BPS) Division of Occupational Psychology Going Green working group. Hosted by BPS in its London offices, more than 70 delegates filled the room, engaging and sharing their professional experiences. Dr Jan Maskell, a member of both IEMA and the BPS, led proceedings, outlining the importance of framing and the use of language and narratives. An exercise with the audience unpicked how differing headlines can generate a range of responses. Dr Stuart Capstick from Cardiff University picked up the framing and narrative theme, discussing findings from two leading research projects, and Kieran Power at AECOM shared lessons on communicating the case for climate change adaptation.

After lunch we enjoyed Dr Matt Winning's exploration of how comedy can reach wider audiences, and Hannah Phang from Futerra shared examples of accessible climate change communication. Attendees left equipped with new and rediscovered insights to help them be better, more effective and more thoughtful climate change communicators. Presentations and video links are available here.

Nick Blyth, IEMA policy and engagement lead

Image credit: iStock


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