Communicating Climate Change, Effectively
April 16, 2015
What is the most effective way to communicate climate change? That was the central question posed at Communication for Climate Change 2.0, a roundtable discussion featuring clean energy experts, nonprofit leaders and advocates, sociologists and climate scholars. Rachel Kyte, Vice President and special envoy for Climate Change at the World Bank, summed the problem this way, “The world is still telling a story of fright, and threat, and risk.”
The story of freight, and threat, and risk, is a compelling one. Climate change has already had devastating impacts around the world; from Pacific Islands that are underwater, to increased tropical storms that pound the east coast of the United States. Of course, those who understand climate change know that if humanity continues on its current trajectory, these impacts will only get more severe.
Ironically, that is part of the reason why communicating climate change is so difficult. How can you talk about solutions and hope when the impacts of climate change get worse by the day? Well, you look for stories. You look for stories of people banding together to make their communities more resilient. You look for examples of cities and countries developing, sustainably. As several members of the roundtable pointed out, these stories are out there, they just need to be told.
No one person can prevent climate change. No one person can keep global temperatures from rising above 2 degrees. But if each of us lived more sustainably, if civic leaders put their cities on the path to 100% renewable energy, if corporations followed Alcantara’s lead and went carbon neutral, we could solve this crisis. That, as nearly everyone sitting at the roundtable pointed out, is how you talk about climate change.
David Thomsen, Fellow