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What Does Effective Climate Communication Look Like? with Dr. Candice Howarth

Audio By: Wangyuxuan Xu | Scripting By: Marie Hogan | Blurb By: Elizabeth Sherstinsky  | Socials by: Sofia Del Priore

What is “place-based” climate change communication?

Climate change can feel overwhelming and impersonal when discussed on a global or national scale. Place-based communication works to make climate change feel relevant to local communities and individuals. Issues that impact local communities and have connections to climate change, such as waste, energy, and food initiatives are often good places to start discussions  on how to implement climate policies.  A focus on local issues can empower communities to take action on matters of local importance with broader implications. When replicated in many communities, place-based communication can enable wide-scale implementation of climate solutions, better communication of science to laypeople, and even engender greater trust in national institutions and scientists advocating for climate solutions. Climate communication is more effective when it incorporates climate solutions that are already being implemented in specific localities. For example, climate communicators can build upon local energy initiatives, spreading information to speed-along a renewable energy transition. 

Knowledge Co-production

Another useful approach to climate communication is referred to as knowledge co-production, a collaborative process bringing together different people, perspectives, and experiences, rather than presenting climate change from, for example, solely from an academic or scientific perspective. When global and national actors engage in knowledge co-production with local communities, both groups benefit. Local communities gain crucial knowledge from experts, enabling them to create smarter/more effective solutions for their communities. Meanwhile, scientists and higher-level policymakers gain knowledge they otherwise would not have, and are empowered to bring diverse perspectives into their work. Part of effective climate communication is not only communicating knowledge, but also taking in new perspectives that can help inform how information is communicated, and what is communicated.  

Who is Dr. Candice Howarth?

Dr. Candice Howarth is a Senior Policy Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics. She is additionally co-Director of the Place-Based Climate Action Network. She researches how the co-production of knowledge and science communication can be used to inform better decision-making with regard to climate change.

Learn More

Unpacking the power of place-based education in climate change communication

Local knowledge in climate adaptation research: moving knowledge frameworks from extraction to co-production

Book: Addressing the Climate Crisis: Local action in theory and practice

What is climate change communication?

Transcript

Dr. Horwath: Climate change isn’t going away. So we need to find better ways to work together. And one of the key parts of this is communication.

Ethan: I’m Ethan Elkind, and this is Climate Break. What are the most effective ways to communicate climate science and policy? For insights, we spoke with Dr. Candice Howarth (HOW-ith), co-Director of the Place Based Climate Network and Senior Policy Fellow at the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

Dr. Horwath: Climate change in general when thinking of the science itself and the impacts that we are already facing, and we are committed to face in future. It can be a very overwhelming topic. 

Dr. Horwath: People are able to visualize climate change a little bit more. If you can make it more relevant to them and the place, whether it be a city or their community or their streets, enabling them to anchor climate change within that context can help them feel a little bit more involved, engaged, and empowered. A good way to start is to see what’s already happening and then building from that.  

Dr. Horwath: A good way to start is to see what’s already happening and then building from that because it’s much easier to build on solutions that are directed towards positive change that can benefit climate change rather than trying to start from scratch.

Ethan: Howarth says that local waste, energy, and food initiatives are often good policy areas to build from. 

Dr. Horwath: it could be a particular policy innovation, or it could be a gathering of a community that is working on different aspects of climate change and then trying to broaden out the focus. 

Dr. Horwath: We know that the carbon emissions from the meat industry are very significant. So initiatives such as, um, meat-free Mondays, which would encourage people not to have meat on a Monday, those types of initiatives do make a difference. And particularly when they’re combined with information on the health benefits and the food waste benefits, it does tend to mean that people are on board a little bit more.

Ethan: To learn more about how to communicate climate science and policy and Dr. Howarth’s research, visit climatebreak.org.

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