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5 Climate Communication Studies to Get You Ready for COP21

December 3, 2015   |   Lauren Griffin

As the COP21 Paris negotiations on the climate wind up, the world waits to see whether our leaders will take the necessary steps to prevent catastrophic climate change. COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, aims to achieve a legally binding agreement to keep global warming below 2°C. Climate advocates from around the globe have been taking – and continue to take – extraordinary steps to mobilize in hopes of pressuring political leaders to do the right thing.

Here at frank, we’re rounding up our favorite climate-themed studies in hopes of aiding communicators who are working on campaigns, while encouraging others to keep up the fight.

1) Meet the New Spokespeople for Climate Change: Politicians

During the negotiations, we will be hearing from political leaders about the importance and impacts of climate change. Research suggests that these messages matter – in fact, statements about climate change from political leaders play a major role in public opinion on the issue.

2) How Climate Conspiracy Theories Hurt the Environment

Speaking of politicians, there’s nothing like a climate summit to bring out the climate denialists and conspiracy theorists. This is bad news for the rest of us, though, because research suggests that exposure to conspiracy theories on the climate can increase peoples’ belief that the whole thing is overblown.

3) Even in Lopsided Climate Change Negotiations, Both Sides Can Win.

Not all regions are motivated by the same messaging. Research suggests that residents of richer countries can be convinced to pay more to prevent climate change as long as they believe that the deal is fair.

4) Don’t Like the Solution? Make Believe There’s No Problem

Given the highly-politicized nature of the climate conversation in the United States, it’s easy to feel like some sections of the American public will never come around to our obligation to the environment and to the future. But this study suggests that how we talk about the solutions to climate change can move the needle for skeptical groups, making it easier to take action.

5) For Action on the Climate, Keep Your Messages Local

For most of us, Paris is distant geographically and the worst impacts of climate change are temporally distant. So how can we motivate people to care about this critical issue when it’s so much easier to tune out distant signals? This study has a possible solution: emphasize the local consequences of doing nothing.

Lauren Griffin
Lauren Griffin is the Director of External Research for frank and the Journal Manager for the Journal of Public Interest Communications (JPIC). She earned her PhD in Environmental Sociology from the University of Florida. Follow her on Twitter @lngriffin25