Communicating Climate Change

From the 2014 Behavior, Energy and Climate Change Conference Washington, DC Dec 7–19

Zeynep Altinay

Latest in how to communicate climate change

1) Clean energy is already here. It won’t magically appear.

2) Amplify real-world examples: Increase the visibility of solutions. Practical not vague solutions

3) Profile job opportunities: these are accessible jobs that people can be proud of

4) We can be energy leaders of the clean tech economy

5) It’s time for better options (better options already exist!)

6) Balance threats with solutions: Explain underline reasons. Why take these big risks when you can take actions.

“We are not connecting with Americans. We need a fresh script (picture) when we are talking about climate change. Find connections between climate change and topics people care about such as jobs and taxes.”

Recommendations on communicating climate change:

1. Start with people, stay with people: Read up and understand what they care about. Communication is not about you, it is about your audience. Build connections with your audience.

2. Connect on common values: What they care about locally. Connecting emotionally, visualizing, storytelling

3. Acknowledge ambivalence: Allow people in the room to hold different beliefs.

4. Scale from personal to planet

5. Sequence matters

6. Use “facts,” not science: Americans value science, they think it is valuable; but it is not emotionally compelling. Talk about facts people can see with their own eyes. Examples: Water being high, temperatures etc. Follow facts with “focused-solutions.” Let people know there are people already out there talking about it.

7. Have at least 1 powerful message from a trusted messenger. Don’t weigh the speech down with numbers, it causes people to tune out.

8. Use the word preparation as opposed to adaptation to inspire action.

Coming Thursday for “Connecting on Climate: A guide to effective climate change communication”

Game and Gamification

“Climate is not a game!” Or, is it?

Why Games?— A way of engaging audience by incorporating fun & relevance. Little kids love characters such as ‘Koda the polar bear’ but keeping their attention requires creativity. Games such as as ‘Koda Quest’ can encourage kids to be pro-environmental, and more importantly influence their parents’ perceptions of climate change. But, developing an app is very competitive: “It is the new Gold Rush.” People don’t work for hire, everyone wants to make their own app. It is a ‘huge’ market that is still growing.


Constructive learning and persuasive design can change attitudes and influence behaviors. It is about openness and solid argumentation and how the game makes us feel. Persuasive design is about making people feel in a specific way.

“With persuasive designs we bridge between location and situation- thereby facilitating the relevance of environmental issues”

You can’t focus only on location. But by moving from location to situation, accentation becomes applicable to many locations. Team element, on the other hand, facilitates a natural change from instructional education to collaborative learning.

“Influence rather than educate”

Through transition from instructional learning influences and changes communities of practice. This leads to a more positive attitude towards environmental issues.

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