One of the most important things you can do for the climate is to talk to others about it. But sometimes it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why we’ve put together our top tips for having effective conversations about climate change.
Research shows that YOU are the most influential person in the lives of your loved ones when it comes to them taking onboard new information, so use that influence for good, grab a cuppa and have a chat about climate action today!
- Find common values. What is that thing that both you and the person you are talking to care about? THAT is where you start the conversation, by sharing that interest/love/value you hold dearly and explaining how climate change impacts or threatens it, or how climate solutions can help protect it. For example, you could start talking about your shared love of surfing, and explain why climate change is the single greatest threat to our oceans. (The main message here is if we don’t stop polluting and overheating the planet, the things we love are at risk.)
- Come armed with the facts. There’s a whole lot of misinformation out there that gets peddled to confuse, distract or delay action. So point people to trustworthy sources of information (like Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, our nation’s peak professional body for doctors the Australian Medical Association, or the Climate Council!) and refer to one or two facts that are compelling and easy to remember (rather than bamboozling people with lots of numbers). For example:
- 2023 is almost certain to be the hottest year on record.
- All extreme weather is occurring in an atmosphere made warmer and more energetic due to climate change.
- The conditions that led to the Black summer of 2019/20 could become commonplace by 2040 due to climate change, driven by the burning of coal, oil and gas.
- Australia is a global fossil fuel heavyweight and one of the world’s largest exporters of coal and gas. We export three times the amount of fossil fuels as the United Arab Emirates every year.
- In the past 10 years Australia has tripled its use of solar and wind.
- Australia leads the world in rooftop solar, with nearly 1 in 3 Australian homes having panels on their roofs.
- Keep it local. There are incredible stories of climate impacts and solutions from every industry and every corner of the planet, but it’s important to choose examples that are local and relevant to whoever you are speaking to, so your conversation buddy can connect with the issue. Talking about ‘our community’, ‘our region’, or ‘our neighbourhood’ is a lot more compelling than talking about the planet.
- Don’t reinforce a false debate. Science is not sitting on the fence about climate change. Scientists agree that burning coal, oil and gas means more pollution in our atmosphere which is overheating our planet and driving dangerous bushfires, lethal heatwaves and other devastating impacts. Any implication of a “debate” opens the door for people to think there’s still a question mark over what’s driving climate change when the science is settled. We need to get on with implementing the solutions.
- Focus on the solutions. Fun fact, we actually already have loads of the solutions we need to solve the climate crisis. And these solutions come with HUGE benefits for our health, our communities, having safe and liveable homes, our way of life, and our back pockets. It’s a win-win-win-win-win situation.
Remember to be understanding. Everyone is at different stages of their climate journey, but if they have questions, send them to the Climate Council for more info. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tiktok and Youtube, or sign up to the Climate Council mailing list for the latest info straight in your inbox.
Want more tips for having effective climate convos? Check out our conversation guides below:
CONVERSATION GUIDE: EXPLAINING CLIMATE AND WEATHER
SUMMER BBQ GUIDE: TALKING ENERGY
THIS IS NOT NORMAL: EXPLAINING BUSHFIRES AND CLIMATE CHANGE
JUST GET ON WITH IT – EFFECTIVE CONVERSATIONS ON CLIMATE CHANGE, JOBS & THE ECONOMY
CONVERSATION GUIDE: TIME TO ACT