‘Talking climate: from research to practice in public engagement’ is both a definitive summary of the latest thinking on public engagement with climate change, and a statement of intent. It showcases the Climate Outreach philosophy, and makes the case for a fresh approach to climate change communication, based on widespread participatory engagement.
The question of how to communicate about climate change and build public engagement in high-consuming, carbon-intensive Western nations, has occupied researchers, practitioners, policy makers, campaigners and community organisers for more than two decades – and is the central focus of our work at Climate Outreach.
During this time, and mirroring the glacial pace at which international political negotiations have progressed, limited progress has been made. Socially and culturally, climate change remains (for the most part) the preserve of a committed band of activists. The ‘carbon footprints’ of many Western countries – and the citizens of these nations – remain high. The public conversation about the energy system is mainly focused on the costs of household energy bills. Public engagement is stuck in second gear, which leaves climate policies vulnerable to changing political winds.
The purpose of our book is to outline how public engagement with climate change can shift out of second gear. The pieces of the puzzle already exist to make this happen – in academic research and practitioner expertise – but a coherent new agenda for public engagement is required to make these pieces fit together. The five principles outlined in this book offer a fresh approach to a familiar problem. By spanning the full width of the space between primary academic research and applied practitioner strategies, we hope the book will be relevant for academics, educators, campaigners, communicators and practitioners.
Thanks to everyone who joined us for our book launch event in Oxford – a great evening of climate conversations! We were also delighted to present Talking Climate at the UK’s literary Hay Festival in 2017.