Starting meaningful conversations about climate change with our friends, neighbors, colleagues, and policymakers has been a challenge in the past. How do you bring up the topic? How do you have a productive discussion?
Recent headlines about reports from the IPCC, NCA4, WHO, the Lancet reports, and other precursors to COP24, give us an opening to talk about climate change, but we must approach conversations wisely.
You can have fruitful conversations about these climate reports whether people have heard of them, care about them, or are ready to act. To help, ecoAmerica’s December Talking Points, provides a simple guide to facilitate meaningful and productive climate conversations.
It’s important to remember that successful climate conversations are grounded in people, listening, and personal relevance. The trajectory of your discussions will be shaped by how familiar others are with recent climate reports, and their level of concern about climate change. And, always remember to build rapport with a person before diving into climate conversation.
For those who have been following the news on climate change reports, start by expressing your concern about the findings. Climate change is happening more rapidly than we thought, and what was predicted to happen at the turn of the next century, is now expected to happen in 2040. If the individual you are talking to is also concerned, shift to what we can do now. Acknowledge Americans’ shared values and commitment to pushing forward climate solutions, and the shared urgency by government officials, business, and faith leaders, and major health institutions. Most importantly, emphasize that to get to where we need to go — we must make our voices heard at the ballot box and with our elected leaders.
If the person you encounter has not been following the news, briefly dive into the top-line findings of the reports: climate is changing more rapidly than previously thought, and action is more important now than ever. Discussions should then transition to what Americans can do, and how all of our voices can be heard.
And finally, sometimes we just encounter a conversation where others simply are not concerned with climate change. Acknowledge that they may not be feeling those consequences now, then pivot to acknowledging our shared values — wanting clean air and water, healthier communities, and well-paying jobs in renewables for hard-working Americans. More guidance available HERE.
While we may not know how much our friends and family, colleagues, congregations, or elected officials know about recent climate reports, we can know how to talk about them in an effective, meaningful way. What’s most important is to start the climate conversation, and be empowered with the tools for success.
See our full set of Talking Points, To Open Conversations on Recent Climate Reports, HERE.