Climate communication is frequently framed as doom and gloom, resulting in no real progress. When we are told there’s a catastrophe around the corner and our lifestyles are partly to blame, it's easy to ignore and deny the problem. Especially since the way we live our lives is not aligned with our fear of climate change.
This creates an inner dissonance where we either choose to ignore the problem or make changes in our lives to feel better.
Psychologist Per Espen Stoknes has done extensive research on climate psychology. His findings are presented in the book “What We Think about When We Try Not to Think about Global Warming”. His book provides a framework for how we can communicate climate change in a way that actually works.
1. Social - We are social beings and the way we behave influences others. If our neighbours, family members or friends talk about or act sustainable, it becomes the normal way of behaving.
2. Simple - Simple actions make a difference. Businesses should strive to make sustainable choices available, easy to recognize and affordable.
3. Supportive - Frame messages positively. We can promote advantages to health and well-being, opportunities for innovation and job growth.
4. Story-based - Use the power of storytelling and visualizations to promote your message. Stories have been proven to influence behavioural changes more than statistics alone.
5. Signals - We should define indicators and signals that shows how to make progress. Measuring our progress can inspire us to continue our journey towards sustainability.
Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
This also applies to climate communication, with social pressure being the most important factor of them all.
The following two examples suggest how you, as an individual can start influencing others today.
Per Espen Stoknes has been a trusted advisor and networker for Ducky since day one. He is a psychologist with a PhD in economics, and chairs the Center for Green Growth at the Norwegian Business School. Stoknes is a serial entrepreneur, author of several books - and now a politician for the Norwegian Green Party.
His latest book, “What We Think about When We Try Not to Think about Global Warming”, he describes the five barriers for empowering climate communications, and the five solutions to bypass them.
Learn more at his website: