Opportunity-oriented climate communication

Tales of doom, tales of oppor­tu­ni­ty. How cli­mate com­mu­ni­ca­tion can help to over­come psy­cho­log­i­cal bar­ri­ers to sus­tain­able action

This paper focus­es on bar­ri­ers and dri­vers of per­son­al and pub­lic engage­ment. The suc­cess of cli­mate change poli­cies in democ­ra­cies depends on social con­sent and own­er­ship of the actions tak­en. Cam­paign­ers and deci­sion-mak­ers there­fore need to com­mu­ni­cate their ideas in a way that speaks to and gal­vanis­es peo­ple. To do this suc­cess­ful­ly, the first step is to recog­nise what moti­vates peo­ple to act and what hin­ders them. This paper con­tributes to answer­ing these ques­tions by giv­ing an overview of the­o­ries from psy­cho­log­i­cal and com­mu­ni­ca­tion sci­ence on the cog­ni­tive bias­es that obstruct log­i­cal deci­sion-mak­ing. It then moves on to sug­gest an alter­na­tive to the wide­ly used “fear appeal” in com­mu­ni­ca­tion about cli­mate change: an oppor­tu­ni­ty-ori­ent­ed fram­ing of cli­mate mit­i­ga­tion that con­nects to people’s val­ues with the prospect of fos­ter­ing long-last­ing engage­ment with sus­tain­able action. Last­ly, the paper explores how the co-ben­e­fits fram­ing can be used for policymaking.

Tales of doom, tales of oppor­tu­ni­ty. How cli­mate com­mu­ni­ca­tion can help to over­come psy­cho­log­i­cal bar­ri­ers to sus­tain­able action

Year of pub­li­ca­tion: 2021

Author: Lau­ra Nagel

Sug­gest­ed cita­tion: IASS (2021). Tales of doom, tales of oppor­tu­ni­ty. How cli­mate com­mu­ni­ca­tion can help to over­come psy­cho­log­i­cal bar­ri­ers to sus­tain­able action. IASS Dis­cus­sion Paper. Novem­ber 2021.