ecoAmerica’s Bob Perkowitz Speaks at Citizens’ Climate Lobby International Conference (Video)
On June 21, our founder Bob Perkowitz gave an address at the Citizens’ Climate Lobby International Conference in Washington, DC. Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a non-partisan organization focused on generating the political will needed to address climate change.
Bob began his speech by pointing out the biggest challenge facing the climate movement: only three percent of Americans talk about climate change often. To bring the issue into the mainstream, we need to transition it from a special interest to a public interest. ecoAmerica takes a research-driven approach to this challenge, using social science and psychographic insights to learn how to make climate change personally relevant to the majority of Americans.
Bob outlined five classic findings from previous surveys, and five new findings from the 2014 American Climate Values report that support those earlier discoveries.
Five classic findings about American climate values:
• Americans Follow Their Tribes. On complex social issues, people tend to trust others (especially leaders) within their social circles.
• People Are Not Ready to Abandon the American Dream. People think sustainability means sacrifice. We need to show them that they can have prosperity without depending on fossil fuels.
• People Have Competing Priorities. Issues like family or health may be more important to people than climate change. It’s important to be respectful of this, and tie climate change to the things they care about.
• Politics & Denial. Beliefs about climate change are often tied to political affiliation. Finding non-partisan ways to bridge this divide can be highly effective.
• The Curse of Techno-Optimism. People may be unconcerned because they assume climate change will be solved through technological innovation – but we can’t wait for that. We can solve it faster and better if we work together on it now.
Five new findings about American climate values:
• Saying Isn’t Doing. The majority of Americans believe climate change is happening – but that doesn’t mean they will take action.
• Benefits Are Essential for Action. There’s a very strong correlation between thinking there are direct benefits to climate action, and believing climate change exists.
• Afraid to Stray. People fear being excluded if they don’t agree with or support the views of their social group – so it’s important to get their leaders involved.
• My Family First. People want the American Dream because they think it means a better future for their family. Connecting with these family values is an effective way to gain their support.
• Concern About Climate Is Elite and Alienating. People don’t think this issue relates to ordinary Americans. Avoiding condescending language and appealing to mainstream values can help.
To address these findings, ecoAmerica has produced two useful guides that offer best practices for relevant and engaging climate communications. In his speech, Bob highlighted some key points from our first report, Communicating on Climate: 13 Steps and Guiding Principles. We also released a more detailed report, Connecting on Climate: A Guide to Effective Climate Communication, last December.
Watch Bob’s speech here: