Climate Conversation Tips

Climate change can be a difficult topic of discussion for many reasons. While the science of climate change is quite simple and well-documented, conversations about it are often based on values and beliefs that are strongly connected to people’s emotions. The good news is that we do not have to agree why the climate is changing in order to have effective dialogues. Most people want the best for their communities, now and in the future. Keeping this in mind during conversations on building resilience can help bridge any spaces between people.

Here are some tips and resources to make these conversations easier so you can help your audience understand the importance of building climate resilience.

1. Know your Audience

  • Acknowledge that people view and respond to climate change in many different ways.
  • Engage in dialogues that are built on trust and respect.
  • Be aware of other community-wide circumstances or situations that may affect the interest level of your audience

Use this website to assess your audience and learn how to engage in more effective conversations about climate change:  https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/about/projects/global-warmings-six-americas/

Here are some tips for communicating about climate change during the COVID-19 pandemic: https://climateaccess.org/blog/tips-communicating-about-climate-change-during-covid-19

2. Address their personal relationship to the environment and climate

  • Understand people’s underlying morals and values to engage in thoughtful discussions about climate change and climate action.
  • Answer any questions or concerns about climate change and how it will impact the surrounding environment and climate.
  • Look for areas of common ground and use those to build support for your climate resilience effort.

Watch this TED Talk for more information on how to approach discussions of climate change and the importance of inclusive conversations.

3. Explain the science behind climate change

  • If your audience needs this information, provide basic scientific evidence of climate change in an easily understood manner.
  • Recognize that climate change is a sensitive topic and people can only consume a certain amount of information in any single conversation.
  • Remember that your goal is to find agreement on how to increase resilience, not to convince someone to change their views on the science of climate change. 

Use this website to learn how to respond to common opinions against climate change: https://grist.org/series/skeptics/

4. Demonstrate the positive impacts of increasing climate resilience

  • Share how building climate resilience will strengthen their community through sustainable economic systems, housing options, food security, water quality, and much more.
  • Encourage small changes in their daily lives that are climate conscious that align with their values and interests.

Use the UN goals to show the intersections between community development and climate resilience: https://sdgs.un.org/goals

5. Continue the conversation

  • Be patient with your audience and allow them time to process the complexities of climate change. 
  • Be available for further conversations and ask questions.

Remember, this conversation is not about shifting people’s morals or world views. Your audience just needs to understand that climate resilience will improve the lives of everyone in their communities. They don’t have to necessarily agree on the causes of climate change, but they should agree that having access to safe, clean and reliable water sources, for example, is something that would benefit their community.

Engage your audience by asking for personal experiences and stories of how things have changed in the community. Focus the conversation on how climate resilience can continue to improve the lives of friends and family.

Finally, remember to be appreciative of your audiences’ willingness to talk about climate change and thank them for sharing their experiences. Climate change conservations may be frustrating. But over time having meaningful conversations about climate change will build stronger ties between community members that will continue long past this specific effort.

Initiative of
Geos Institute

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