Given the urgency and scale of the challenge, the way we communicate about climate change has to be based on the best available evidence of what works – and doesn’t work.
In this category, we were looking for key research studies that have developed fresh understanding and insights on climate change communication.
We wanted to hear about innovative research studies that seek to answer questions about how to best engage the public in a meaningful way with climate change. We also wanted to showcase upcoming talent in this research area, and so the applications were open to Early Career Researchers only. Topics could include areas such as reaching new audiences, testing and developing frames and narratives, or developing understanding around key concepts in climate change communication.
Winner: Chloe Lucas
Dr Chloe Lucas is a Research Fellow at the University of Tasmania, Australia. Her PhD explored how climate change has become socially polarising. Her aim was to identify opportunities for building respectful and empathetic relationships between people who think differently about climate change. Chloe’s research revealed the potential for a climate politics that emphasises commonality across diverse life concerns. Her study shows that people who are unconcerned about climate change cannot be assumed to be less well informed, or less dedicated to living a moral life than those who are concerned. This work reveals that thoughtful dialogue between groups with divergent understandings of climate change can create opportunities for mutual learning, broader democratic support for policy responses and more diverse strategies of public communication.
Runners up: Merryn Thomas and Alexandria Herr
Dr Merryn Thomas is an interdisciplinary researcher based at Cardiff University’s Understanding Risk Group. Her PhD explored perceptions of sea-level change on the Severn Estuary, and found a number of differences between expert and public understandings, alongside barriers to engagement. She therefore initiated SeaChange, a photographic exhibition and outreach event designed to increase awareness and engagement.
Alexandria Herr is a Ph.D. student at UCLA. Her study focuses on the role of deadlines in climate communication. Following the IPCC’s 1.5 ̊ report, media, politicians and youth activists used the 2030 deadline as a rhetorical tool to convey climate risk. This study found that deadlines do not produce significantly different audience responses compared to non-deadline narratives in terms of affect, risk-perception, or pro-environmental behavioral change.
Many thanks to our judging panel: Tom Saunders (Head of Public Engagement at UK Research and Innovation), Adam Corner (Director of Research at Climate Outreach) and Roz Pidcock (Science Programme Manager at Climate Outreach).
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