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Talking climate on the doorstep

By Nameerah Hameed on June 5, 2024

Climate change is one of the top four issues voters are concerned about in this election. But sometimes it’s a tricky thing to talk about.  If you’re a parliamentary candidate, campaigner or activist, here are Climate Outreach’s top tips to help you.

1. Set the tone for a positive conversation about climate change

Right across the country we care about climate and nature. Sometimes we don’t think others do – so it’s always good to remind voters four in five of us care about climate.  

People strongly believe it’s the government’s job to lead the way. Climate leadership makes people feel hopeful in tough times. Tell them a bit about your party’s plans to address the climate and nature crisis. 

The best climate communication makes caring and action feel normal, everyday and positive. People like to hear specifics, like local residents getting on with doing their bit and the area changing for the better. Have some examples to hand – from school projects to new businesses.

2. Talking authentically about climate change means building trust - here’s how to do that

Show empathy: you need to show voters you are interested in them and not talking down to them. Listen to them and their perspective on climate and nature. 

Show your motivation: people need to understand why climate matters to you. Tell them why you care – as a human, not a politician. It’s one of the most powerful communication tools you have. If you’re not a scientist, don’t feel you have to have scientific arguments up your sleeve. Talk about what moves you, with passion. 

Build your credibility: voters need to believe you’re not lying to them or making things up. Be honest about what you can and can’t do. Politicians can’t help with everything. If you promise you will help someone, take that seriously – but don’t make promises you or your team can’t keep.

3. Really listen to, and respond to, people’s worries and concerns

People don’t want to be left alone to face and tackle climate change. We need to feel we’re part of something collective. We need the government to lead, and take seriously our worries about costs and change. 

Ask people what climate change means to them and give them space to share. Show you’re interested in what they have to say. Resist the urge to ‘win’ the conversation or always be thinking about what you’re going to say next. 

Find common ground. We’re all noticing the changing weather, and we all love and value things that climate change threatens – like our local parks and nature, or whether our sports teams can play. Find something that connects you.

Information you might want to hand 

Of course, most conversations on the doorstep will be about specifics – people’s lives and what’s happening locally.   Here are a few ideas for things to find out about in advance. 

[1] What are the hot climate-related topics in your area? 

It might be the impact of flooding on farms, or unbearable heat in the city in the summer.  Perhaps people are particularly concerned about some aspect of what’s planned locally as part of tackling climate change.  Find out the big debates and be ready to be honest about how you feel about them too. 

[2] What great things are happening as part of climate action locally? 

There’ll be so many stories of local jobs, action and inspiration. Find them and have them ready to share. 

[3] Your party’s plans on public engagement 

Climate conversation shouldn’t just happen at election time.  We need a national plan for making everyone feel part of the climate story, from mass advertising campaigns to ongoing citizen involvement in making climate plans.  How will your party give people a meaningful say in shaping climate action locally and nationally?

How we can help

Climate Outreach works with national and local politicians, activists and advisors from all the main parties, helping them to get the political climate story right. Our 2024 Britain Talks Climate toolkit is a deep dive into people’s hopes and fears on climate policy in an election year.  Get in touch if we can help.

Please let us know how and if you used this resource so we can produce guidance that’s most helpful for you!

More information

By Nameerah Hameed

Nameerah is our Advocacy Manager, working to support MPs, governments, and businesses on climate engagement. And supporting partners on how to engage different audiences meaningfully on climate change.

She previously joined as an Engagement Advisor working on the Climate Engagement Initiative, an ambitious and multi-partner project that aims to influence the outcomes of the UNFCCC negotiations on Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE), and to support governments to strengthen their national public engagement initiatives.

She is also the founder of Women In Energy Pakistan, working to build a strong community of female professionals and foster a culture of career and leadership development.

With over ten years of experience, Nameerah has worked in the nexus of energy and climate policy in the UK, USA and Pakistan. She formerly served as a Policy Specialist in the Government in Pakistan working on renewable energy and energy efficiency with development partners. She studied Energy, Resources and Environment at The Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in USA.

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