Talking Green: Winning the argument for climate action

February 16, 2022

Talking Green looks at people’s reactions to the key words politicians and campaigners use when discussing climate change.

The climate crisis is real and immediate. We are falling short in our attempts to mitigate climate change, and we will need to make significant, sometimes costly or inconvenient changes to how we live.

There is also a very real and immediate crisis for poorer people in the UK: jobs are often insecure and low-paid; deindustrialisation, the financial crisis, then austerity have embedded decline and stagnation in many communities.

We have identified how progressive politicians and campaigners should communicate the benefits of tackling climate change, in a way that resonates with people and their lives. Instead of using slogans about ‘green jobs’, politicians should avoid jargon; highlight the link between climate, nature and a good quality of life; and appeal to widely shared values.

This is the final report of a wider project which is a partnership between FEPS, the Fabian Society and TASC.

WonkWeek: Fabian Society – politicians are frequently accused of not walking the walk on climate change, but can they even ‘talk the talk’ properly? In a fascinating report, the Fabians examine public reactions to particular climate buzzwords and phrases. If (like us) you enjoy research techniques unfamiliar to the wonk world, the authors’ use of reader response methods will surely spark your interest. Their central finding is that talk of ‘green jobs’ is preaching to the already-converted, failing to resonate with individuals more sceptical of climate action. Such individuals are more likely to be older, working-class, and supporters of Brexit or the Conservative Party. The authors found that politicians are more likely to persuade such individuals if they: avoid slogans and jargon; emphasise the links between climate change and poor wellbeing; and use language which resonates with widely-held values, for instance stressing the future impacts of climate change on people’s children.