Local councils are more trusted than national government and are closer to the reality of people’s everyday lives. That should make them great climate communicators and ambassadors – and over 300 local authorities have already declared climate emergencies.
At Climate Outreach, we can offer support to local authorities who want to better engage with their staff and other audiences around climate change.
Here’s what we’ve learned from running training on how councils can best reach and inspire people to be more connected to the climate conversation.
Introducing the Local Climate Engagement programme
This programme involved training, mentoring and support, aiming to enable local authorities to deliver high quality climate engagement with the communities they know best. Making use of the lessons from the training, the participating local authorities engaged with their communities, including via online consultations, in-person workshops, meetings with community groups, pop-up stalls and community events. The engagement all centred around relevant local themes, such as nature restoration and insulating houses, which ground conversations about climate change in the reality of people’s everyday concerns. Protecting local environments resonates with people, as well as actions that help to reduce energy bills when cost of living concerns remain high.
Climate Outreach’s role was training participants on how to do great climate engagement, using our ‘Britain Talks Climate’ toolkit. We focused on two key aspects of engagement we think local authorities need to get right:
- Working with trusted messengers
- Understanding your audience.
Finding the right trusted messenger
Those figures aren’t bad compared to trust in other institutions, particularly national government. This gives local authorities the opportunity to inspire, inform and involve more people in the climate conversation. But, trust is critical for effective climate communication, so our training session helped local authorities to think about who else locally they can work with to be an even more impactful climate messenger – like local community organisations, peers, local businesses or faith groups who might hold the most trust in their community.
Understanding your audience
Local authorities also need to understand the values and identities of their audiences so they can reflect the reality of what local people care about and how climate stories fit in. Our years of research show that connecting empathetically to people’s values is what leads to meaningful engagement and trust.
The Britain Talks Climate toolkit includes a host of insights into how to connect with the different values held by different audience segments in the UK. Local authorities (and everyone else) can use this toolkit to understand who they are speaking to, and to design communications that connect to values, leading to meaningful action on climate change. Along with this, local authorities need to get out and listen to people. Making use of the Britain Talks Climate toolkit, and getting involved in community conversation will help local authorities to really understand their audiences.
What we heard during the training sessions
Often, local authorities are communicating with many different people across their districts at once. Participants voiced the need for learning about the frames and messages that cut across different audiences. Climate Outreach shared insights into the climate stories that resonate across different audiences, including; protecting nature and wildlife, and positive messaging around health & wellbeing.
Participants also discussed the need for public engagement to be effectively resourced and championed internally. It needs to be built into funding bids to ensure there is dedicated time, capacity and resources. And, it needs to be championed at all levels of a council to encourage enthusiasm for driving this forward.
What did the participating local authorities think?
Invitation for bespoke support
We have a great deal of experience of working with local authorities, and we would be delighted to talk to you about how we can support you to develop an effective public engagement strategy going forward. Please get in touch via this form. Our team can offer consultancy services, and training on effective public engagement on climate change.
One response to People’s everyday concerns should be at the heart of how local authorities talk about climate change
Sign up to our newsletter
Thank you for signing up to our newsletter
You should receive a welcome email shortly.
If you do not receive it, please check your spam folder, and mark as 'Not Spam' so our future newsletters go straight to your inbox.