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We must do more to normalise how we discuss climate change

A blog post by Barry Fisher

Climate change action often starts with a conversation.  

And conversations start with us all. We all know that we are more likely to trust the words of those close to us, to believe the first-hand accounts from friends, to empathise with colleagues presenting information, and to resonate with family members explaining what they know, over the marketing and political messaging that infiltrates our every move online. 

We know too that we need to balance the scientific facts, the horror stories of the impacts of climate change now, and predicted for the future, with positive, real impactful examples of how we can live differently.

recent report published by the Climate Change People’s Panel highlights the need for the Scottish Government to do more to engage the public on climate change and Scotland’s climate change targets. It says:

Government needs to be more ambitious. Yes, we agree. 

Government needs to deliver a positive narrative. Yes, we agree. 

Government needs to collaborate with local and community led organisations. Yes, we agree, and would add third sector organisations to the mix. 

Government needs to be consistent in communication education and allocation in funding. Yes, we agree.

We strongly agree.

All of the findings are desperately needed, and we have been playing our part for decades doing this through our work with schools - linking climate change to the curriculum across primary and secondary; with communities – supporting them develop Climate Action Plans and delivering the Climate Challenge Fund for more than a decade; and via our accredited training for individuals, local authorities and businesses.  But, really it is up to us all to do more to reach those not currently engaged or who feel excluded. Much more.

We often surround ourselves with those who share similar backgrounds, experiences and beliefs, but now it is clear we all need to open our eyes and reach wider and deeper with our conversations and collaborations.  But that requires consistent, sustained funding and a commitment to prioritise environmental action and not politicise it.

There is a real need for dependable engagement with communities and young people in particular – to ensure that they know that combating climate change is simply the right long-term choice for us, nature and our planet. We know that 74% of people in Scotland view climate change as an immediate and urgent problem.

Yet, we also know, because we have worked in this space for a long time, and we have listened to those we have worked with across many sectors of Scottish society, that people want to hear positive, celebratory messages. They want to know what they can do to create change, save money and make them happier.

A shift in the narrative is needed, we must take a brave new approach and help people embrace action that is good for our planet and ourselves.

This is what we are aiming to do through our Climate Emergency Training, our Climate Action Schools framework and our Climate and Nature Friendly Communities Network.

If we are to bring people with us, and inspire meaningful action from individuals, communities, and businesses we need to flip our conversations about climate change to focus and celebrate the many opportunities and benefits we could see. 

If we adapt now, the spin off benefits of action to combat climate change could actually lead to stronger communities, healthier people, more successful businesses and additionally protect biodiversity and our planet. 

We will carry on inspiring action on climate change and are committed to supporting Scotland become a net zero country. 

Please reach out if you wish to work with us, to share your story with us, or to find out more about what we do.

We support the