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How do we talk about climate change? New study sheds light for clean energy advocates

The last thing we want our audience to believe is that they are helpless to create change. A recent study sheds light on how to effectively balance climate change concerns with eco-anxiety — and inspire action.


Do our political affiliations influence our perspectives on climate change? According to a study by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, they certainly do. While this may not come as a surprise, what’s remarkable is the degree of unity among Americans on the urgent issue of climate change. The study, spanning from 2010 to 2021 and encompassing over 16,000 participants, reveals a shared sense of concern across the political spectrum—a consensus that clean energy advocates and marketers can tap into to promote more sustainable living.

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Photo Credit: Amanda Voisard

Over the past decade, respondents from diverse political backgrounds, including Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and those unaffiliated with any party, have all expressed growing apprehension about climate change. While the intensity of concern and preferred approaches may vary, the overarching message is clear: our planet is facing a climate crisis. The challenge now lies in effectively communicating solutions to halt its progression, rooted in a deep understanding of how collective worry can influence future attitudes and behaviors.

Effective advocacy begins with targeted communication efforts aimed at raising awareness about the impacts of climate change and avenues for prevention. Whether by highlighting federal or local policies, showcasing advancements in renewable energy technologies like solar panels and batteries, or advocating for lifestyle changes, tapping into individuals’ genuine worries is key to motivating action.

However, it’s crucial to strike a balance and avoid dwelling excessively on the negative implications of climate change. While concern can be a powerful motivator, an overload of alarming information can lead to eco-anxiety—a state of mental distress. Fostering a sense of agency and empowerment rather than doom and gloom will help audiences avert being resigned to helplessness. Understanding the nuanced difference between legitimate concern and eco-anxiety within your target audience is paramount in crafting persuasive communications that drive positive change.

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Photo Credit: Woody Welch

It’s also important to emphasize the concrete and immediate benefits of sustainable lifestyle changes. The economic savings and resiliency benefits of installing renewable energy and battery backup, for instance, can be more compelling for a homeowner or local business concerned about the risk of power outages. Combining the tangible benefits of solar+storage, for instance, within an altruistic appeal on climate change, if done with care, is the holy grail of effective clean energy advocacy and marketing.

As we approach the upcoming election season, climate change is sure to be a focal point. Regardless of political affiliation, we can find common ground in promoting pro-climate solutions that cater to diverse audiences’ belief systems. After all, the health of our planet is a concern that transcends partisan divides, and it’s incumbent upon us to champion a greener, more sustainable future for all.