From scientists and the media to policymakers and the arts, most communicators use the same overarching narrative when they talk about the climate: “Climate change is an existential crisis and needs urgent action.” But this singular framing doesn't appeal to everyone, and can leave people feeling powerless and disconnected.
The problem we've identified is a poverty of stories - there are too few ways we talk about climate change. Our aim is to shift the focus from communicating the threatening nature of climate change, to stories of 'doing'. This takes two forms:
- For climate scientists and other experts involved in tackling climate change, the stories of 'doing' can be about the work they do on a day-to-day basis.
- For organisations, decision-makers, and community members, the 'doing' stories can be about the climate actions they undertake in their personal and professional lives.
The Climate Action Unit delivers capacity-building activities ranging from in-depth communication training to shorter masterclasses, articles and podcasts.
Our projects often involve an aspect of 'co-creation', for example, by bringing climate scientists together with storytellers or artists; or by bringing scientific experts together with policy experts.
- House of Lords' Environment & Climate Change Committee - videos of Dr Kris De Meyer at the evidence session on better communication and how to encourage more climate-friendly behaviours.
The Strategy Room
The Strategy Room is a storytelling project to enable local councils to creatively engage residents on climate change and net zero policies. It moves the focus away from individual behaviour change to the systems change required to enable individual behaviour change.
Fast Familiar, NESTA
August 2022 - onwards
Local Storytelling Exchange
The CAU delivered a training and support programme for journalists and communications specialists on action-based storytelling on climate change. This project is supported by the European Climate Foundation.
September 2021 - ongoing
Members of the Climate Action Unit have been involved in a series of public engagement, communication and storytelling projects around climate change and the environment. These were run in collaboration with other partner organisations and have been critical in establishing how the Climate Action Unit develops co-creation interventions, hence their inclusion here.
- Citizen Engagement on the Environment
A large-scale DEFRA-funded project to engage citizens on environmental issues and policies. Members of the Climate Action Unit developed and delivered an engagement training programme bringing together environmental policymakers, scientists and conservation experts.
NatCen Social Research, Involve, National Coordination Centre for Public Engagement, Incredible Oceans, Marine Biological Association, Natural History Consortium
November 2018 - November 2020
- The Future of Our Seas
A NERC-funded public engagement project bringing together marine scientists, public engagement professionals and local artists to co-design innovative and creative engagement activities around the marine environment. Members of the Climate Action Unit developed and delivered the public engagement training and facilitated the co-creation process.
Incredible Oceans, Marine Biological Association, Scottish Association for Marine Science and others
November 2017 - September 2018
- The Future of Our Seas: Marine scientists and creative professionals collaborate for science communication - A paper in Research for All (open access)
- Project website
- Climate Explorers
This NERC-funded pilot project brought climate scientists in co-creation with Fun Kids, a UK children's radio station. The aim was to create a radio series for children which would avoid the usual concern-raising nature of climate stories, and instead make the stories more personal and relatable for the envisaged age range (7-11 year olds). Members of the Climate Action Unit developed and delivered the public engagement training and facilitated the co-creation process.
Fun Kids Radio, Liverpool John Moores University and others
January 2017 - April 2017