Looking Ahead


Climate communications play a crucial role in driving climate action by raising public awareness and increasing acceptance for ambitious climate policies. The wider climate community, including governments and non-governmental organizations, must recognize the importance of effective climate communication as a secret weapon in the fight against climate change. By effectively communicating the urgent need for action alongside the benefits of transitioning to a low-carbon economy, we can bridge the gap between scientific research and public understanding, and mobilize individuals, communities and policymakers to take meaningful action.

There is clear consensus that the science of the climate, nature, and social crisis is clear — the massive looming risks to economic and human health have been identified. What is lacking is public awareness, engagement, and demand for action. Our current approaches to climate communications run contrary to everything the communications and creative industries have learned: Most of the best sources of science, journalism and reporting about the climate crisis — including vital health and safety information — is behind paywalls that block access to 95% of the public around the world. 

Social media and other phenomena have unleashed an unrelenting torrent of false and misleading information on the public, with huge repercussions on public health and safety. The speed of transformation and lack of frameworks and knowledge are fueling confusion and inaction. Driven by self-reinforcing echo chambers and a lack of communications knowledge, the science and climate communities typically communicate within themselves, not crossing over to the mainstream.

The best communication talent is working for industry, rather than the public. Why should world class experts in communications, cultural shapers strategies and technology be solely the tools of industry? We argue that it’s time for a new public service information system to engage and help support public safety and health. There is a vital need for public service engagement around climate, to build resilience and collective action for public health and safety. But currently, there is no effective mechanism to deliver this. 

A global communications effort has been recommended by experts across the climate sphere: The UNFCCC’s Article 6, known as “Action for Climate Empowerment”, obliges all nations to engage their citizens on climate change. This commitment is also part of the 2015 Paris Agreement and has contributed to ongoing dialogue and guidelines for climate education, training, and public awareness. While momentum for this crucial challenge is building, government buy-in and capacity need strengthening. Organizations around the world have recommended a global climate communications league to monitor and assess climate communication efforts, showcase best practices, and encourage collaboration for effective engagement. The Earth Public Information Collaborative is our answer to this call.

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Call to Action

Climate Communications Systems Are Broken. There is a broad scientific consensus about the causes and catastrophic risk of climate change. The mounting damage to society’s life support systems, impact on our natural systems, our economic systems, our health care, and to the social fabric of civilization is frightening. 
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Closing Words

I shared with colleagues recently that I fear a day some years ahead, in the inconceivable future toward which humanity is still careening, where my kids ask, “Dad, we thought you were working on this — did you know that everything everyone was doing wasn’t going to be nearly enough? Did you know we were heading for this?” And I imagine myself thinking back to today from that future place, wondering what we might have done differently. Wondering what it would take to say we’d done what we could. I think about future regrets — what do we know now that should give us a chance to avoid the worst?
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