American Climate Values 2014

Just as there's no one correct way to fix climate change, there's also no one correct way to talk to people about climate change. 


Recent polling has shown that for many people, climate change is still down the list of everyday things they think about and worry about. ecoAmerica's American Climate Values 2014 report looks at the different values that people hold and how that relates to climate change communication.


  • People follow their tribes
    If your friends see climate concern as elitist, you’re not going to bring it up for fear of being ostracised. You have to personalize climate to empower people to talk about local impacts and realities.
  • We’re not ready to give up consumerism yet
    Having the right kind of stuff and ‘keeping up with the Jones’’ is still important for many people. They resent the idea of people telling them they shouldn’t buy the things they’ve ‘earned’. Don’t emphasise the change – instead show success examples to create different peer pressure.
  • Competing priorities
    When you’ve got bills to pay that are more immediate, climate understandably slips down the list. To combat this, you need to go to where people are – incorporate their personal priorities into climate solutions.
  • Denial and Politics line up
    The American political divide is the biggest barrier to climate solutions in the U.S. When denial is caused by distaste of the ‘big Government’ solutions, focus on solutions that fit within their moral frame. When denial is intellectually rationalized, don’t try and change their minds – try and tap into their curiosity instead.
  • One size does not fit all
    In a wide and varied country, there are going to be many different conversations on climate change that resonate differently with people – know your audience and ground your appeals to their values.
  • Tough approaches
    Climate solutions that promote sacrifice and austerity are viewed as passive and weak. Americans want bold solutions to motivate bold actions – they need to be big, bold and actionable.
  • Techno-optimism won’t save us
    The ‘no worries, we’ll wait for a silver bullet’ argument leads to disengagement. To counter this, emphasise the need for action to achieve those innovative opportunities.
  • Indifference
    If the world is going to burn anyway, why bother? This group generally responds to social norms and tangible economic benefits.
  • Fatalism
    Most common among Young Americans who feel it’s too late to do anything, this group responded to new trusted voices reenergizing action.
  • Emerging Connections on Climate
    Don’t assume people get the connections between climate and extreme weather events or climate and health impacts. Help people connect the dots. 


image via cc Jenny Downing, flickr

Date: 2014
Organization: ecoAmerica
Strategic Approach: Audiences, Evaluation, Framing, Other
Organization: ecoAmerica
Strategic Approach: Audiences, Evaluation, Framing, Other

Related resources

Related Resources