Climate Outreach today releases a report on how the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) can communicate better with the public. We based our report on interviews with key expert 'witnesses', the report concludes that the IPCC must adopt new ways of presenting its work and engaging the public and media.

Facts are not enough. We are not arguing that the IPCC has failed. Its job is to present policy makers with a robust assessment of the latest climate science. But it is clear that  presenting the world with information is not creating the political change we need. More facts and more information are unlikely to convince the public in the future.

Our key recommendation is that the IPCC must use human stories as well as science. Human stories that illustrate the impacts of climate change. And the IPCC authors and key figures should also allow the public an insight into their work, motivations, fears and hopes.

Download the report: Science & stories:  Bringing the IPCC to life

We also recommend:

  • The IPCC should invest in communication and begin using video and social media. The IPCC must create an engaging and accessible public face.
  • Abandon assessment reports. We argue that these infrequent and lengthy assessments have not provided policy makers with what they need. Instead the IPCC should provide ‘science on demand’ for governments based on their needs.
  • IPCC science is currently interpreted for the public by many other organisations who produce summaries and analysis. The IPCC should formalise and expand these relationships. It should work with a diverse range of organisations to increase its reach.

We reached our recommendations after interviews with 16 key ‘witnesses’. These witnesses have first hand experience of bridging the gap between the IPCC and the public. Amongst them are pivotal journalists, science communicators and experts.

The recommendations proposed are those of Climate Outreach alone. They may not reflect the view of anyone interviewed or their respective institutions.

 

Image: Scientists and Coast Guard swimmers test the integrity a melt pond on sea ice in the Chukchi Sea. Creative Commons, NASA.

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