The climate change communications initiative is led by Defra Your guide
in partnership with the Energy Saving Trust, the Carbon Trust,
the Department of Trade and Industry, the Environment Agency, the
UK Climate Impacts Programme and the Department for Transport.
Crown Copyright 2006 Issued April 2006
01–11 What is climate change and why
do we need to communicate it? This booklet is a guide to climate
12–19 Advice to help you communicate
change, and how to communicate
climate change about it to other people. It is part of
20 Find out more the Government’s commitment to
improving people’s understanding
of climate change. You can use this
booklet to spread the message, and
encourage other people to think
about climate change.
We want as many people as possible to Use this booklet as an overall guide to
tell the climate change story at a local communicating about climate change,
level, and we need your help to do this. and the accompanying website
You can explain why it’s happening, what www.climatechallenge.gov.uk as
it means and what needs to be done. a source of specific tools and ideas.
There is also a special fund to help
with the cost of creating climate
Acknowledgements: change awareness activities, which
Educationphotos.co.uk/Walmsley you can apply to.
Stefano Cagnoni/Reportdigital.co.uk 00/01
The blanket of gases that keeps the Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse
What exactly surface of the earth warm and able to gas, which causes climate change.
is climate change? sustain life is getting thicker, trapping Every tonne emitted in to the atmosphere
in more heat. This is caused by the commits the world to more warming. We
release of greenhouse gases as we can do something about it – every tonne
burn fossil fuels for energy and cut of emissions avoided reduces the threat
down forests. The vast majority of of climate change. This is why we need
scientists now agree that to avoid to address this issue now, wherever we
radical changes in temperature in the can. Everyone can do something to help.
future, action is urgently needed now.
The climate has already started to
Tomorrow’s climate is today’s change – we must do everything we can
challenge. to stop further changes, and adapt to the
new situation we find ourselves in.
18th century –
1807 – Invention
1896 – Link between CO2
emissions and global
1900 – World
1903 – Wright
their first flight
1950s – Beginning of
of CO2 emissions
1952 – First regular
jet airline service
1979 – World Climate
1987 – Discovery of link
between CO2 levels and
temperature going back
more than 100,000 years
1990 – Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change
reports Earth has warmed
0.5ºC in last 100 years
1998 – Hottest year
2004 – Nine hottest
years on record within
2005 – World last ten years
improved local environments.
bring other positive benefits such
as economic growth, new jobs and
with understanding why we need to.
The climate change story is ongoing.
Many solutions already exist and can
While we can’t stop the effects of what
we’ve done in the past, we can influence
the future. Tackling climate change starts
Acting together What do people
think about climate
We need to help people understand Initially we need to focus on making Research shows that among the Most people in the UK think that
that climate change is a serious climate change easily understood general public, few people understand climate change:
challenge, but one that we can and a ‘here and now’, ‘front of mind’ what is actually causing climate change.
do something about. We want to issue. We also want people to have an – is confusing – they can’t see how
communicate a positive vision of increased awareness of what needs Barely half of the population think it relates to them;
what we are collectively trying to to be done to tackle it. We want to they will be directly affected. Climate – won’t affect them personally;
achieve. Our goal is that together this avoid giving the impression that it is change was ranked bottom of a – is a problem for the future,
generation will tackle climate change. solely the responsibility of individuals list of key challenges facing the not now; and
to take action. Everyone in society – UK in a recent survey. – can’t be affected by their individual
government and its agencies, business, actions, because the problem
industry and the public – needs The first and most important thing is is so big.
to tackle climate change together. to change the way people think about
climate change. Then we can try to These are the challenges we need to
change their behaviour. face, but something can be done. Firstly,
06/07 we need to change these attitudes.
We are trying to change the way people
Current think about climate change. Here is a Ideal attitudes
attitudes summary of some of the most important
attitudes that we need to address.
People aren’t clear
what causes climate People understand
change and don’t climate change and People see the
understand what needs what is causing it. impact it may have
to be done to tackle it. on their lives.
People don’t include
climate change as
an important issue
when making People think that
decisions. climate change won’t
affect them personally. People include climate
change when making
their decisions and
embrace the positive
changes that result.
Climate change is
a depressing and
When you’re communicating about We want people to know that there
Our goal climate change, there is a phrase that is a co-ordinated effort under way to
explains very clearly what we want to tackle climate change. Everyone
achieve. It’s a useful tool for summing needs to be involved in rising to the
up what climate change communication challenge. To find out more, please visit:
is about: www.climatechallenge.gov.uk
generation will tackle
We also have a brand that has been
created for use on government climate
What do you want your
Some advice communications to achieve?
for new communicators
All good communications should make
their intended audience think, feel or do
something differently as a result.
We’re asking people to think differently
about climate change, and it requires
specific techniques. The clearer you can
be about what you want your audience
to do, the better.
For example, you might want your
– understand that climate change
is happening now;
– understand why it is happening;
– understand that it affects the UK
and the region where they live;
– see the connection between everyday
life and climate change; or
– be aware of the need for immediate
It is important to be as specific as – How do they feel about climate
Know who possible about who you want to change now?
you are talking to? communicate with and how you’re – What do they say about it?
going to do it. Understand as much – How willing are they to take action?
as you can about who your audience – What would it take to change
is, what they value, which media their thinking?
they read/watch/listen to and whose – Have others tried to talk to them
opinions they trust. about it in the past, and were
Once you know your audience, then you – Have you got the time and money to
can ask questions about their attitude communicate effectively with them?
to climate change. – Is there something they care
passionately about that can be linked
to the issue of climate change?
Effective communication doesn’t have Tone of voice Timing your message work in a press release
to be big or expensive. Getting your Different audiences respond to different It’s important to plan your timing. Your or an article instead of an ad? They’re
message across might simply be a tones. If you’re speaking in public, you message might be effective, but if your both ways of getting information into
matter of sending a letter or an email, need to use one style of language; email gets delivered when everyone’s newspapers and magazines for free.
speaking at an event, or making a if you’re writing a press release for at the Christmas party, it won’t be read.
phone call. newspaper editors, you need another. Printers, advertisers, newspapers and Ask the audience what they think
Take time to consider which is right for websites all need advance notice if you Did it work for them? Did they
You know your audiences best – what your audience. want their help. Keep a clear schedule understand what you were trying
are they most likely to respond to? for your campaign and try to remain to say? Did it make a difference?
Partners flexible, so you can make the most All this information is valuable for
Consider the following ideas when Time and money are always a of any opportunities to reach your your next campaign.
planning your communications: consideration. Climate change is a big intended audience.
issue that touches many different areas
Messages – if you can link it to another issue with Budget
Create some simple messages and try its own campaign, you might be able You’ll need a clear idea of how much
them out in different ways. Would they to share resources. For example, if the money you’ve got to work with, and what
work better in a press release, a report IT department in your office wants to it will buy. Budget planning minimises
or on a website? reduce the number of printer cartridges the risk of missing opportunities when
it has to buy, ask them if you can add you need them most. For example, will
a message to their communications
about recycling old ones and the
benefits to the climate.
Using different channels Communicating differently
when you’re communicating
There are thousands of different ways targeted messages to specific Research has shown that there are – Don’t rely solely on logic, facts or even
to communicate your message, but it’s audiences. However, beware of sending some important issues you should money-saving incentives – people
important to use those that will be most people junk emails that they will ignore. consider when you communicate need to be inspired and provoked.
effective. Here are some examples of climate change:
different communication channels Partnership marketing – Encourage discussion between
that could carry a message about Promotions, sponsorship, loyalty/ – People are rarely motivated to act individuals in your audiences
climate change: coupons, special offers by threats to their long-term survival – debate raises awareness.
These allow you to harness the – think about how many people
Traditional media marketing power of other, larger still smoke despite the known risks. – Associate climate change with people
Newspapers, radio stations, organisations cheaply. In fact, when it comes to climate your audience admire or respect, or
TV stations, magazines change, people are not even normally with things they care about, like home
Traditional media like these have large Internal communications motivated by concern for their improvement or local green spaces.
audiences and are trusted. However, Reports, brochures, newsletters children’s future.
they can require you to plan a long time These allow you to communicate with – Be consistent in your use of language
in advance, they can be expensive and a specific, captive audience. – Don’t create fear about climate and your explanation of climate
you might not get the same level of change without showing what people change – this will help it stick in
response as from other, more targeted Direct marketing can do about it. If people can simply people’s minds. See the ‘Our goal’
communications. Direct mail, cold calling avoid frightening issues, or put them pages in this booklet.
to the back of their minds, they will.
These marketing methods have the
Events advantage of communicating with
Speeches, conferences, forums – It’s often unhelpful to criticise
individuals in a very targeted way – you
You can communicate with people behaviour that people consider
can know exactly who has read/heard
personally, address their individual normal in their home or family.
your message and how they responded.
concerns and deliver your message Instead, make behaviour that reduces
with feeling. the threat of climate change seem
For more communications information,
positive and desirable.
New media www.climatechallenge.gov.uk
Websites, email, text messages
These are an excellent way of sending
Use this checklist as a quick
Other resources Communications reference guide for the progress
available online checklist of your campaigns.
1. Decide who you want your
communications to target.
2. Find out what they currently think
about climate change.
3. Decide how you want your audience
to change their attitude.
4. Define the reason they should change.
5. Relate it to an aspect of their lives
they understand and care about.
6. Decide the voice your communication
As well as the guidance in this booklet, – case studies of real life examples 7. Decide the channel your
you can get more help communicating of how individuals and groups have communication will appear on.
climate change at our website: made a difference; 8. Check the timing and budget needed
www.climatechallenge.gov.uk for your message.
– a short film you can download
The website has a range of resources which explains how climate change
including: is happening; and
– the truth behind many myths about – surveys of people’s attitudes to
climate change; climate change.
– useful facts and the science that will More and more information will be
help you explain what climate change added to the website over the coming
is and why it is so important; months to help you understand and
communicate climate change.