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Reports & guides | 13 June 2013

A new conversation with the centre-right about climate change

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This report was cited in a 2014 report of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee “Communicating Climate Science”

COIN’s ground breaking report presents the evidence for more effectively engaging centre-right citizens around climate change.  It argues that if climate change is to break out of its ‘left wing ghetto’, it must be communicated in a way that resonates with the values of the centre-right – and offers four narratives for bringing climate change into the mainstream.

This report takes the first steps towards developing a better understanding of how to engage centre-right citizens on climate change. At the end of 2012, a roundtable meeting with some of the UK’s leading experts on communicating climate change to centre-right audiences was convened. In the words of one meeting participant, climate change must break out of its left-wing ghetto in order for a new, meaningful conversation with the centre -right to begin.

Responding directly to the issues raised in the roundtable meeting, the central argument of this report is that there is no necessary contradiction between the values of the centre-right and the challenge of responding to climate change. But until now the issue has not been framed in a way that resonates with centre-right citizens.

Download the Report Click here for our most recent centre-right work

To engage this group more effectively, communicators need to drop the language and narratives of environmentalism that have only ever appealed to a minority of people. Climate change must become something that everyone has a stake in. A new conversation with the centre-right about climate change should begin with the values and concerns that this audience holds, and build a bridge between these and the values of a sustainable society.

This report summarises and condenses a growing body of academic and policy research on climate change communication into a set of principles, recommendations and core messages for beginning a meaningful conversation about climate change with centre-right audiences. It is aimed at anyone – left or right – who seeks to engage citizens with centreright views on climate and energy issues: campaigners, politicians, community organisers and business leaders.


Following a general introduction to the topic, it is divided into the following sections:

  • Understanding public opinion and scepticism on the centre-right
  • Values and frames for communicating climate change
  • New narratives and language for the centre-right
  • New heroes and social norms for climate change communication

The report identifies four narratives for engaging centre-right audiences more effectively: localism; energy security; the green economy/‘new’ environmentalism and the Good Life. It sets out why these ways of framing the issue are more likely to resonate with the values of political conservatives, and the sorts of words and phrases that could be used in beginning a conversation with this audience.

There is no inherent reason why climate change and the centre-right should be incompatible. However, there is a vacuum where a coherent and compelling conservative narrative on climate change should be. This report points to the ways of framing the issue that are more likely to resonate with the values of centre-right audiences – lifting climate change out of its left-wing ghetto, and into the mainstream.

Get our latest guide on communicating renewables and energy-efficiency with the centre-right here

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