How to Communicate With Conservatives About Climate Solutions

blog-communicating with conservatives-3.16.16Building a strong, widespread base of support for climate solutions means engaging all Americans on climate issues, whether they’re liberal, conservative, or somewhere in between. A message that resonates with one group may not resonate with another – that’s why it’s vital to tailor the message so it connects with the personal identities, values, and priorities of your audience.
A new report from our MomentUs partner Climate Outreach offers recommendations for communicating with conservatives about clean energy. Their research identified four key values shared by conservative voters: 1) integrity and authenticity, 2) a sense of responsibility, 3) keeping things in balance, and 4) the need for security. They then tested several narratives designed to speak to those values, and analyzed which ones resonated most strongly. From those results, they created a list of do’s and don’ts for effective messaging.
While Climate Outreach is based in the UK, the climate opinions of American and British conservatives have many similarities, so these principles could easily be applied in the US.
Here are some of their best practices for engagement:

  • Use personal stories and testimonies to talk about climate change, rather than numbers.
  • Focus on values like responsibility, waste avoidance, and common sense – avoid conventional “environmental” language.
  • Promote the health benefits of transitioning away from dirty fossil fuels.
  • Be straightforward about the fact that renewables are a business opportunity, but also be honest about the challenges of transitioning to clean energy.
  • Use credible and authentic messengers who share the values of your audience.
  • Be aware that older audiences are more likely to be skeptical about climate change, and don’t force the issue. Climate acceptance is higher among younger audiences, but it’s still important to frame solutions in conservative language.

You can download the full report here.

New Guide & Interactive Workshop: Communicating Effectively with the Centre-Right about Energy

With continuing political polarisation around climate change and energy issues, there is an urgent need to reflect the views of centre-right citizens accurately and build communications around their values. There is no inherent reason why climate change and the centre-right should be incompatible. However, there has long been a vacuum where a coherent and compelling conservative narrative on climate change should be.
This report presents the findings of the first rigorous social research in Britain to explore how centre-right citizens engage with different language and framing on energy and climate change, building on previous reports in our centre-right programme. It is based on narrative workshops with communities in both urban and rural locations, interviews with key stakeholders (including Lord Deben, Ben Goldsmith and Simon Roberts) and a literature review.
Download the report to see our “communications do’s and don’ts” as well as an analysis of 4 key narratives:
– Avoiding waste is common sense (the most popular narrative)
– Health and quality of life (mixed response)
– Great British Energy (mixed response)
– The Smart Money (the least favoured narrative)
Read more
Image credit: Pixabay

2 Responses to “How to Communicate With Conservatives About Climate Solutions”

  1. Want to applaud the articles here. You guys address difficult issues. None more so than the need to resonate with diverse groups of people, even green thinkers, when talking about environmental issues. Studies continue to show even the greenest of talkers still make purchasing decisions based on 1. cost and 2. end-use performance.
    I’m a relatively new advocate of this cause. I became more aware and concerned after I stumbled upon hemp.
    While hemp is the most complex (and important) plant life on earth and can not only replace products made from petroleum, timber and synthetics, I think I’m most blown away by hemps ability to cross the political aisle. Both conservatives and liberals alike sponsor and support hemp legislation and the business of hemp is beginning to look promising.
    So my message to the conservatives is, there is enormous economic opportunity in front of us. For example, hemp material is not only superior to cotton in strength, durability, absorbency, it produces 250% more fiber per acre than cotton. Add that our farmers can become self-sufficient again. Hemp farmers in Canada make an average of $300 per acre. US cotton farmers, around 2 bucks. We subsidize cotton production to the tune of $16B annually with our tax dollars. America is the world leader in importing foreign grown hemp based products. Let’s become the leader in exporting domestically grown hemp products in the world.
    To progressives, hemp doesn’t require herbicides, and little, if any, pesticides. Cotton is the most pesticide and water-intensive crop on the planet. Agricultural run off from farm states along the Mississippi has trickled to the Gulf of Mexico creating oceanic dead zones the size of Deleware.
    There are literally thousands of examples how hemp can help reduce intrusive material extraction, destructive manufacturing methods, and toxic waste disposal. AND make sense economically.
    To both sides, I urge that we live in a capitalistic democracy, and no meaningful change can be made without our collective dollar put to good use. I don’t believe the way to purposeful change is accomplished through voting. Ask the residents of Flint how our elected officials are doing. Purchasing is the ultimate determinant that drives both political and corporate behavior.
    And when we support and purchase products that harm the earth, we are conspiring to the very issue we consider indefensible. We must own a part of the footprint left behind.
    I realize one single method can’t reduce climate change to the degree change is needed, but I do believe the reintroduction of widespread use of hemp can have the biggest impact of any method or new development being discussed.
    Apologies for the long-windedness, but yes, I agree the message needs to be dissected and segmented to the appropriate audience. The key is to create advocates. One advocate is worth more than 100 ‘likes’.

  2. Hi Brian,
    Thanks for your comments and for your support of the work we do. As you say, the power of the dollar is mighty, and changing purchasing behavior is an important component of the climate change fight.

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