Encourage others to take action

How to have productive climate conversations

We all have a role to play in communicating climate change and encouraging others to take action. Conversations are an excellent way of spreading important ideas and encouraging people to act. People are more willing to listen to individuals they know and trust, and you don’t need to be a scientist to start a climate conversation. The more people who act on climate change, the better.

Tackling climate change can feel overwhelming which can discourage action. The issue seems too large to tackle and it can feel hard to believe one person can make a difference. Whilst the state of our planet can seem bleak, it’s important to balance negative facts with positive ones. Inspiring hope rather than despair has been proven to lead to people being more likely to remain engaged and take climate action.

You could start a climate conversation by sharing information surrounding the causes and impacts of the climate crisis and discuss what future steps we should all be taking to help mitigate climate change.

Key elements in having productive climate conversations

  • Ask questions. Remember your own position, you’re not here to lecture or confront others on their views. Ask what climate change means to them and allow them to reflect on their own experiences and views on the issue.
  • Be respectful and find common ground. Ensure you listen and appreciate people’s concerns and values. Whilst opinions can differ, seek to find out what you have in common. If you can connect their values to the climate, they will be more likely to take climate action. Ensure to avoid blame and judgement which can discourage the conversation.
  • Share your personal experience. Your own climate story can be a powerful communication tool. Talk about how you became engaged in climate action, why it concerns you, and the positive steps you’ve taken to reduce your own environmental impact. Be honest about the positives and negatives you’ve faced in taking action.
  • Learn from others. Be open to ideas from others and recognise what you can learn from their knowledge and perspective. There is no one size fits all action to mitigating the climate crisis and we can all learn from each other to better protect our planet.
  • Be understanding about uncertainty or resistance. Some people may be reluctant to engage in a climate conversation. Ensure you are patient with them and empathise with their perspective.

Climate Outreach provide handy tips within their talking climate handbook, which guides people on how to have a climate change conversation.