Communicating climate politics

What kind of media articles about climate change politics motivate people to act? Are they the articles you read commonly? How can this be fixed? 


Climate change coverage in the mainstream media generally falls into wonky articles about climate policy and politics, wonky articles about the science, or articles about how we should be doing something about it. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) conducted focus groups looking at media coverage of climate change politics and unfortunately found that almost none of that coverage resonated with people.


So what did work? The good news is that the CCPA found there is potential for media to produce stories that can counteract cynicism and support efficacy.

Tell your success stories. Reading success stories about climate politics made people want to know more and feel more optimistic.

Show us your everyday heroes. Stories about people using their own initiative and creativity to solve climate problems resonated by showing concrete examples of the connection between individual and collective action. Collective action resonated better than individualistic stories.

Create your cheersquad. When people knew about political success stories, they were more likely to tell others about them and combat others’ cynicism.

Keep it local. Local examples of climate action were more powerful and easier to identify with.

Share; don’t tell. Simply telling people they needed to ‘get active’ or ‘get involved’ fell flat because they risked increasing feelings of guilt and frustration. Telling stories of people who were already participating in climate politics was a much easier point of entry to get others on board.

Get beyond the science. Focus group participants who were well informed about the science of climate change were still less able to describe examples of individual or collective political agency. Stories about people taking part in political action that was effective are important to build feelings of efficacy.


Photo by IISD/ENB

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