Developing an evidence-based approach to climate change communications: Insider Action Research in partnership with Fossil Free Berlin

University essay from Malmö universitet/Kultur och samhälle

Abstract: Communication practitioners are failing to engage publics and generate sufficient political will for decisive and timely action on climate change. Despite recent progress in climate communications research, a research-practice gap means evidenced-based approaches are not being adopted by practitioners. This degree project seeks to generate practical knowledge to support the campaigning group Fossil Free Berlin (FFB), of which I am a member, and climate communicators more broadly. FFB is part of the global Divestment Movement – a decentralised, grassroots campaign which aims to stigmatise the fossil fuel industry to mitigate climate change. Using Insider Action Research, I collaborated with the group to develop the following research question: “How can FFB positively and effectively engage audiences to act on climate change, in particular target audiences for our upcoming campaign (MP and the general public).” We found that values and frames, appropriate messengers and social norms can be leveraged to reach traditionally sceptical or inactive centre-right audiences. Positive storytelling, and relatable messaging can also bring the problem closer to home, empowering audiences to act – if communicated in conjunction with viable routes to change. As both the primary researcher and a member of the group, I use autoethnography and personal narrative to address issues of subjectivism and representation and communicate findings in an engaging, accessible way. This study is consciously written in the first person using broadly accessible language, and reflects on my feelings and experiences.

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