Climate Change needs a PR Glow-up
Fear doesn't galvanise people into action, it paralyses. Let's reframe the narrative and focus on the solutions we already have.
The latest IPCC ( (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report is the work of hundreds of scientists and researchers and is backed by 195 nations. The contents: a dire prediction for our planet.
As we have repeatedly failed to act, the window of time we have to keep to the Paris Agreement of 1.5C of warming or less is rapidly closing.
Despite this, businesses continue to make weak pledges with more of an eye on marketing than a real solution. Governments deny the problem or make lacklustre changes that won’t move the needle. Despite individual action having only modest impact, consumers are increasingly saddled with the blame.
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ statement of “code red for humanity” certainly struck a nerve. Problem is, I think it’s the wrong one.
While I understand the need to drive rapid action and communicate the severity of the situation, fear doesn’t galvanise people into action. Some shut down and become apathetic, others become aggressive, anxious or stressed about their future. Eco-anxiety is real and affects many. Who can blame them?
We need to reframe the way we talk about climate change. We all know how serious it is, but collectively appear to be suffering from varying degrees of ‘disaster fatigue’, when an overwhelm of crises makes it difficult to identify and take a corrective course of action. When the world is seemingly imploding, where would one even start?
Let’s start with changing the narrative.
Let’s talk more about the solutions, not in the back pages of websites or in niche tech magazines, but in mainstream, front page media. Let’s put more impact investment in businesses who are working regeneratively (not just sustainably) and start taking a hard line with businesses that choose to operate as ‘normal’. But mostly, let’s talk about all of the good that is going on, alongside the problems, so people aren’t overwhelmed and therefore paralysed with fear. While individual action alone won’t turn the tide of climate change, collectively tackling the ‘low hanging fruit’ can make a difference.
- Stop wasting food, buy local and eat more plants — food waste contributes to 8 per cent of our emissions globally — more than air travel. Buy the ‘ugly’ fruit, plan your weekly shop and get creative with leftovers.
- Make your voice heard — campaign for action on our climate. This can be in whatever form you feel comfortable, but keep in mind that the government exists to represent us and our interests
- Business has contributed significantly to our situation — encourage your favourite brands to move towards a cleaner, fairer model. Customers are the lifeblood of business, so this is an exceptionally effective way to affect change when done collectively.
The large-scale change we need is complex, and — given that it will impact our economies, businesses and livelihoods — should not be taken lightly. However, we have long since passed the time where small, easy steps will fix the problem — now is the time for courageous, decisive action.
I choose to stay optimistic. I believe we have the solutions and that when things get bad enough, governments will start making the decisions we need. I’m just not sure we’re at ‘bad enough’ yet. And by waiting till we are, we make the action needed much harder.
If you are interested in those solutions have a read of Project Drawdown. It’s a peer reviewed, fact-based list of the top 100 ways we can tackle climate change. Rather than inducing-anxiety, it’s empowering and positive.