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Announcing our new Climate Engagement Lab, designed to support UK campaigners

By David Powell on December 7, 2020

Are you a UK climate campaigner who wants to build campaigns on the best possible evidence of how to effectively engage audiences, but lacks the time and support to apply this evidence to your work? We’re kicking off our new Climate Engagement Lab, designed to support campaigners, with a start-up phase focused on the lead-up to the UN climate conference (COP26). 

Update: after a successful start-up phase, we have now moved into the next phase of this programme – see our Climate Engagement Lab programme page for resources and updates.

As the UK and the world try to ramp up their climate action, and in the lead-up to the UN COP26 climate summit less than a year from now, a strong social mandate for the changes to come – for example improving our homes, or changing how we travel – is essential.

Most of the carbon cuts the UK have made until now have happened behind the scenes, like the rise of renewable energy. We’ve done most of the easy stuff, but there’s a long way still to go. While at the headline level the public is firmly on board with deeper climate action, in practice what that now means for different communities requires effective and joined-up public support. 

Climate campaigners can and must play a huge role in building this support. Climate Outreach and others have a wealth of evidence and research on what works (and doesn’t) for building strategies that reduce polarisation, build concern across the whole of society, and turn that concern into action. We know that there’s a huge demand from campaigners to pick this up and use it – but that campaigning is hectic, time is short, and help can be hard to find. We’ll be supporting them through our new Climate Engagement Lab.  

Supporting UK campaigners 

Our new Climate Engagement Lab will enable UK climate campaigners to build campaigns around evidence-based practical insights into what works for delivering this essential social mandate for transformative climate action.  

The Lab aims to underpin the next decade’s campaigns – big and small –  with robust evidence on effective climate engagement, and will work with a wide range of partners to deliver the support, inspiration, insight and community needed to do this. 

It will help organisations address some of the main engagement challenges and opportunities they’ve told us about:

    • a lack of space and support to get advice on what works and doesn’t, to understand who is doing what and reaching whom, and ‘how my campaign can fit into the bigger picture’ 
    • a wish for hands-on support and help to apply the breadth of research from Climate Outreach and others to campaign development 
    • a need for smart, responsive resources and tools that are tailored to the most important campaigning moments ahead, like COP26 
    • a desire to be part of a community of experts, campaigners, funders and strategists that are trying new things together based on insights and real-world learning. 

Our start-up phase 

From now until mid 2021 we’re focusing on COP26 campaigning. The UN climate talks in Glasgow at the end of 2021 will define the year and we’re ready to support campaigners with targeted evidence for making it a positive engagement story for the whole country. 

At first we’ll be supporting a small number of campaigners working on COP26 with workshops, webinars and hands-on help. We’ll make sure we’re building a Climate Engagement Lab that really works for campaigners – giving them the connections, advice and support that they really need – before scaling up. Please get in touch with us if this means you! 

In the first few months of 2021 we’ll be releasing a set of COP26-focused campaigning materials and a webinar which will be publicly available on our website. Sign up to our monthly newsletter to make sure you don’t miss them. 

This start-up phase is kindly funded by the Samworth Foundation, Kestrelman Trust and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. We are now seeking funds for an ambitious fully-scaled Lab for 2021 and beyond, both in the UK and internationally – if you’d like to discuss this, we’d love to hear from you.  

And if you’d like to get in touch to share your thoughts or advice on the Lab, or just to find out more, please contact us.

One response to Announcing our new Climate Engagement Lab, designed to support UK campaigners

  1. Cathy Allen says: says:

    Hi Climate Outreach,
    I met Dave in a call yesterday, and I am SO interested in what you are doing here.
    I am a co-ordinator in XR COP (specifically Actions) and would love to have your workshops, webinars and hands-on help. I’m going to ask the rest of the team, but our regular meetings are Strategy 3pm Tuesdays, Actions 4pm Thursdays. But I think all groups would be interested in hearing from you and I particularly would appreciate a conversation at some time. I’ve written my request here, so I’m on your books
    All the best,

By David Powell

David leads our advocacy work, championing public engagement and effective climate communications with policy makers, politicians and those who influence them.

David has nearly two decades of experience as a campaigner, communicator, researcher and strategist on environment and climate change. He’s worked as Head of Environment and Green Transition at the New Economics Foundation and senior campaigner on economics and resources at Friends of the Earth. He has a MA in English Literature, an MSc in Environmental Strategy, and a Graduate Diploma in Economics. He’s particularly interested in the intersection between systems change and individual psychology, and how to build campaigns that harness the deeply held concerns we all have about the climate crisis.

Outside of work he hosts the climate psychology podcast, Your Brain on Climate, and until 2022 was co-host of Sustainababble. He is also the chair of Somerset Wildlands, and spends whatever time there is left running and playing the sax.

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