Let's Talk Climate: Messages to Motivate Americans

ecoAmerica has developed market-tested messages about climate change solutions to engage Americans across political and demographic groups. This climate messaging platform employs research methods to test specific words, phrases, and narratives that link climate change to mainstream American values and concerns. ecoAmerica also created several thematic messages to tap into personal interests and affiliations including: Health, Faith, Business, Communities, and Higher Education.

Thirteen key recommendations for climate communication introduce the resulting report, each of which are further expanded upon in detail. Some of the key messaging examples include:

Connect climate action to moral responsibility for future generations: Persuadable Americans express a significant shift to higher urgency and support when we talk about climate action as a moral responsibility for future generations.

Amplify the power of “we”: Persuadable voters are more likely to believe that “we can” or “we need” to take action now to reduce the pollution causing climate change than they are to believe “I can” or “You and I need” to do these things.

Talk about cost and savings more than jobs and the economy: Americans are more concerned about money in their pockets than they are about jobs. Scale down economic communications to more personal themes: avoid cost, save money, and prevent rising prices.

ecoAmerica refers to the research respondents as part of the base, opposition, and persuadable. “Persuadables” are defined as they: believe that climate change is due to human activities or a combination of human and natural causes; are not sure if we can do anything to address climate change; and their demographics closely reflect the national population of registered voters. They found that persuadables constitute 77% of registered voters, and ecoAmerica’s argument is therefore in order to build public support for climate action, we need to focus on these Americans.

Pages 13-17 report on the positive results of the tested general climate messages. “Paint the Future” and “Pride in the Next Big Thing” are two of the top messages that test better than the opposition, and are very strong for the base voters as well as persuadables.

A Quick Reference of Words and Phrases chart is included comparing more and less effective phrasing for climate communication.  For example, they found that saying “good for the (city or state), good for the people” is actually more effective than saying climate solutions are “good for the economy.”




Publication Date: November 24, 2015

Related Organizations:

  • ecoAmerica

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Resource Types:

  • Communication

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