Headline: Tales of doom, tales of opportunity. How climate communication can help to overcome psychological barriers to sustainable action

This paper focuses on barriers and drivers of personal and public engagement. The success of climate change policies in democracies depends on social consent and ownership of the actions taken. Campaigners and decision-makers therefore need to communicate their ideas in a way that speaks to and galvanises people. To do this successfully, the first step is to recognise what motivates people to act and what hinders them. This paper contributes to answering these questions by giving an overview of theories from psychological and communication science on the cognitive biases that obstruct logical decision-making. It then moves on to suggest an alternative to the widely used “fear appeal” in communication about climate change: an opportunity-oriented framing of climate mitigation that connects to people’s values with the prospect of fostering long-lasting engagement with sustainable action. Lastly, the paper explores how the co-benefits framing can be used for policymaking.

Publication Year
2021
Publication Type
IASS Discussion Papers and IASS Working Papers
Citation

Nagel, L. (2021). Tales of doom, tales of opportunity. How climate communication can help to overcome psychological barriers to sustainable action. IASS Discussion Paper, November 2021.

DOI
10.48481/iass.2021.034
Links
https://publications.iass-potsdam.de/rest/items/item_6001359_5/component/file_6… https://www.cobenefits.info/resources/opportunity-oriented-climate-communicatio…
Projects involved
Mobilising the Multiple Opportunities of Renewable Energies