Looking for new and diverse voices from the scientific community with strong public engagement skills? Over 40 climate experts across Britain participated in Climate Outreach’s public engagement Climate Ambassador programme this year. The aim of the programme is to support new and diverse voices from across the climate research community to connect the science with what matters for people.
Find out more about the programme, why it is so needed and how you can get involved below, and meet our Climate Ambassadors, organised by area of expertise.
Why do we need Climate Ambassadors?
The last two years have shown that in times of crisis, scientists play a pivotal role in society. When faced with a global pandemic, we relied on our world-leading experts to develop a life-saving vaccine under immense pressure and at a rapid pace. The British government informed the nation that they were guided by the science and international media looked to scientists as informative spokespeople for Covid-19.
In the run-up to the UN climate conference COP27, scientists will again play a critical role in informing government leaders and the public on how we can address and mitigate against the worst effects of catastrophic climate change. In a hearing of the House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee, the Government Chief Scientist, Sir Patrick Vallance emphasised the role and trust of climate scientists in helping achieve climate targets: “…climate scientists and others who can comment on this are trusted voices in this space…” The Climate Ambassador programme aims to empower climate experts to understand their role in society and the influence they hold as trusted messengers.
The Climate Ambassador programme
At Climate Outreach we’re now in the second year of running a public engagement Climate Ambassador programme focused on training and supporting climate scientists (and other experts) to talk with wider audiences about climate change. The training is fully funded and built from the growing social science evidence base about what works (and doesn’t work) when it comes to relating climate change to peoples’ lived experiences.
Over 40 climate experts engaged with the programme this year and are already putting their new skills into action, from speaking about the 2022 heatwave on BBC news to trying science comedy for the first time at Science Show Off. This year’s Climate Ambassadors will also be presenting at local climate fairs, producing videos and podcasts and taking to social media in the weeks leading up to COP27.
Celebrating diverse expert voices on climate change
Carbon Brief reported on the lack of diversity in climate science research through an analysis of the authors of 100 highly cited climate science papers from 2017 – 2021, based on their gender and “country of affiliation”. Less than 1% of authors are based in Africa and only 12% of the 100 papers analysed have female lead authors. Science correspondents are evidently left with a narrow pool of experts to present in their climate stories.
The Climate Ambassador programme focuses on encouraging climate experts who are underrepresented in the media – such as early career researchers, female researchers and researchers from ethnic minority backgrounds – to participate in the training and take part in exciting opportunities to present their work outside of academia, either through media interviews, public events or policy consultations.
Climate communication practitioners know that one way of engaging wider, more diverse audiences on climate change involves working with trusted messengers. We know that scientists in general are highly trusted by society, but being able to relate to your audience as an ordinary member of the community is important too. Inviting the broader British public to see more people that look like them in mainstream media not only demonstrates the range of scientists working on the world’s most pressing issue, it challenges stereotypes and builds trust through shared identity.
The Climate Ambassador programme will continue to work with climate experts to identify critical barriers to engagement and how to overcome them. The training supports climate experts in identifying their own unique opportunities for influencing wider, more diverse audiences to take meaningful action on climate change.
How to get involved with the programme
- Journalists and event organisers: please take a look at our database of trained Climate Ambassadors to approach for compelling and impactful reporting on climate change.
- Climate experts: if you are interested in taking part in the programme next year, please fill in our Expression of Interest form, which can be found on the programme page. Please note we are currently working with UK-based researchers and experts only, but hope to expand this programme internationally in the near future.
- Funders: if you are interested in supporting the programme, please contact us, we look forward to speaking with you.
This programme is being delivered with support from the Marmot Charitable Trust.
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