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Let's Talk Climate

By Sharon Chen
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How can we communicate about climate change so that others listen? ecoAmerica has released a new climate communication research report, “Let’s Talk Climate: Messages to Motivate Americans.” The report presents rigorously tested words, phrases, and narratives that link climate change to mainstream Americans’ values, to give higher ed leaders across the country powerful language to ensure that our climate is a priority in universities and colleges across the nation. The report offers ways to shift the climate conversation from doom and gloom to hope and motivation.

In partnership with Lake Research Partners, ASO Communications, and the National Resources Defense Council, ecoAmerica recommends the following ways to communicate effectively and persuasively about climate change:

1. Connect climate action to moral responsibility for future generations.

2. Communicate climate reality – debating science does not help.

3. Focus on family and children - Americans react with more urgency when climate change is connected to protecting family health or preserving family well-being, especially related to children.

4. Highlight health and connect climate change to personal and family health.

5. Sell the personal benefits - Message resonance improves greatly when people hear how they can personally benefit from solutions.

6. Don’t dwell on negatives; pivot quickly to solutions.

7. Focus locally - When climate solutions come from a local perspective, voters are activated and respond more favorably. Community-based messages increase people’s sense of efficacy, seem less political, and bring the economic impact and opportunity closer to home.

8. Amplify the power of “we” – Collective messaging and action resonates much more than an individual-focus.

9. Evoke lived experiences, use visual language - People understand and relate most to learning from what they have seen with their own eyes.

10. Talk about costs and savings more than jobs and the economy - Scale down economic communications to more personal themes: avoid cost, save money, and prevent rising prices.

For more detailed insights and recommendations, please visit ecoAmerica and download the report today.