How to Communicate With Conservatives About Climate Solutions
Building 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.
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)
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