, Packard Foundation
An analysis of the current capacity of the climate science communications field as it relates to the needs of decision makers (by RESOLVE for the Hewlett Foundation and the Packard Foundation).
The report aims to understand the views of key stakeholders in government, business, the philanthropic community, and civil society who are concerned about climate change and to determine whether there are any unmet needs or opportunities for improving the communication of climate science.
WHY YOU SHOULD TAKE A LOOK:
This assessment considers the climate science communication needs of decision makers within the larger context of the economic downturn, issue polarization, media coverage of climate disputes, and shifts in public opinion. The authors considered three key questions:
1. What do decision makers need to communicate about climate change?
2. What capacity exists within the climate science communication field?
3. Are there unmet needs and new opportunities?
Drawing from a needs assessment of decision makers and a landscape survey of US-based climate science communications initiatives, the report identifies the following findings:
Need for Usable Science
Decision makers want more information on climate impacts and responses to impacts at the local level, particularly for use with skeptical audiences.
Gaps Exist Among Climate Science Communications Initiatives
The climate science communications field has expanded quickly to share communications strategies and disseminate research.
Most initiatives are linked to the environmental community.
There is a shift from a science and policy focus to audience-specific communications that highlight impacts and preparedness efforts. These tactics include:
- Reach influential constituencies by cultivating new messengers.
- Focus on localized impacts and resilience.
- Take advantage of "teachable moments" such as extreme weather events.
- Package communication tools for local leaders.
- Develop graphically compelling tools.
- Utilize innovative partnerships with major distribution channels.
- Experiment with different strategies and evaluate the results.
- Increase and use social science research on communications.
Strategic coordination is necessary to respond to needs, close gaps and address inefficiencies among initiatives communicating about climate science. The report identified five opportunities:
- For decision makers, there is an interest in information that moves beyond defense of causal science to a focus on more granular science (on mitigation and adaptation).
- Move away from advocacy science (for decision makers), toward collaborative science diversity: encourage others to communicate.
- Focus on the business of climate mitigation and adaptation
- Coordinate strategically across initiatives to bolster effectiveness and improve efficiency