A compelling climate change narrative to defeat the doubters

We're not failing to communicate climate change; we're failing to communicate what to do about it and to get people to buy into the necessary radical action.

Jules Peck: Founding member of Jericho Chambers
Jules Peck: Founding member of Jericho Chambers

We need progressive policy and comms – communicating through what we do, not what we say we do. This must be combined with a narrative built from the bottom up.

Many of us accept climate change is serious and man-made but aren’t acting. We see it as ‘too big, too ugly, too scary’, according to Futerra, and expect governments to lead change.

They are not. As John Ashton, former special representative for climate change, has said,  no party is properly engaging with climate change. Many Conservative MPs are climate sceptics. Policymakers hide behind long-term targets and get dreadful advice from economists.

But the ‘merchants of doubt’ with most to fear from change continue to create confusion in their fight against action. Too little is being done to drive a wedge between them, although the Carbon Tracker Initiative think-tank is showing what can be achieved.

The media are also to blame for suggesting there remains a scientific debate on climate change. Leading PR firms say they won’t work for climate deniers, but when will the first £10m account be turned away?

To fight those opposing change and to empower action, communicators must unite under an appealing narrative for change. Getting the message right is crucial. Due to our inbuilt cognitive bias, neuroscientists are no longer surprised by society’s dangerous risk-taking. George Marshall’s new book Don’t Even Think About It points the way.

The changes asked of us are massive. But, as Al Gore has said: "Did Churchill say there was only going to be a little blood? A few drops of tears? A little misting of the eyes?"

Jules Peck is a founding member of Jericho Chambers

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