SEI Publication

Author(s): Vulturius, G., M. Davis and S. Bharwani

Year: 2016

In: SEI discussion brief

Type: Discussion brief



Link to SEI authors:

Building bridges and changing minds: Insights from climate communication research and practice

This discussion brief, written for European policy audiences, examines what science and practical experience are teaching us about effective communication.

The Paris Agreement is widely seen as a turning point for climate policy. Despite its flaws, it lays out an ambitious agenda for reducing carbon emissions, adapting to unavoidable climate change impacts, and transforming the world’s economies to continue to build prosperity and human well-being while more sustainably managing natural resources.

The European Union has positioned itself to be a leader in this transformation. Yet translating the vision into action will require strong political momentum, combined with strong public engagement and support. Effective climate communication is crucial to building that momentum and on-the-ground engagement.

This brief presents insights from climate communication research and practice, focusing on three key objectives: 1) building support for (and reducing opposition to) climate policies; 2) driving personal behaviour change to reduce their emissions and prepare for climate change; and 3) mobilizing citizens to push for more ambitious climate action by governments or businesses.

To a great extent, the principles of good communication are universal, but climate communication poses special challenges. It involves huge and complex issues, raises fundamental questions about our economy and our lifestyle, and seeks to engage individuals to tackle a problem that can only be solved through collective action. The aim of this brief is to synthesize the “state of the art” on climate communication, particularly as relevant for European policy actors, and to highlight important questions and challenges that warrant further exploration.

Download the discussion brief (PDF, 4.1MB)

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