How to be persuasive on climate

Climate change is a scientific issue – it’s all about physics, and if we just explain the facts to people, they’ll understand it is important and take action, right? Wrong. Take a seat as ecoAmerica and CRED explain why and how to break down those barriers.


There has never been a time when climate change has been more politicized, but the impacts are closer than ever before, and the imperative to act is urgent. How can we reach a wider audience and engage them too? Don’t want to read the whole thing? Watch the webinar video here.


Communicating climate change is not one-size-fits all. There is no ‘one argument to rule them all’ or any magic phrase that will wake people up. You will have many conversations about climate change and they will be varied, because people are all different.

Values are key. People seek out information that supports their existing beliefs and values and reject information that contradicts their values. Know your audience and know their values to make sure what you’re communicating will resonate with them. Frame your message to reflect their values.

Choose the right messenger. People react badly to someone who is not within their ‘in-group’ telling them what to do. Make sure your messenger will be someone your audience trusts, admires or respects.

Use peer pressure. Talk about how everyone else is acting on climate within your audiences groups (church, sports teams, local movie club etc) to create the social norm of action.

The end of the world is not motivating. Emphasize solutions and benefits and lead with solutions to boost engagement. Telling everyone we’re going to die in a mass extinction won’t motivate, even if it’s true.

Climate change in the here and now. Bring impacts close to home – climate change is happening now, not in the vague ‘future’ and show your audience how they can be part of these solutions.

Talk about people’s personal experiences. Too many facts and figures makes the topic abstract. Make sure you link impacts through to things people have seen an experienced at a local level, and then pair it with a solution so people don’t shut down and want to avoid the problem.

Tell a story. Without a narrative, you risk your presentation or conversation being mostly ‘blah’. If you tell a story you’ll be more engaging and more memorable.

image via (cc) Flickr, Kris Krueg

Date: 2014
Organization: CRED, ecoAmerica
Strategic Approach: Audiences, Framing
Organization: CRED, ecoAmerica
Strategic Approach: Audiences, Framing

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