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New climate change campaign, #ClimateOptimist, aims to change the conversation

by | Sep 25, 2017 | Public Relations

A new survey finds that a majority of people globally are optimistic about our ability to address climate change, with 64 percent of global citizens—and 60 percent in the U.S.—believing we can address climate change if we take action now. Overall, 33 percent strongly agree this is the case, and 32 percent tend to agree.

The survey, conducted by global market research firm Ipsos on behalf of non-profit organization The Climate Group and change agency Futerra, polled online adults aged 16-64 in 26 countries and is at the heart of a new campaign, #ClimateOptimist, launched to change the dominant narrative on climate change. The campaign’s partners include Mars, VF Corp, Interface, Ashden and the DivestInvest movement.

“We’re optimists because we believe if we set bold science based goals then human ingenuity will find a way to advance solutions,” said Barry Parkin, chief sustainability officer at Mars, in a news release. “We’re already realizing the business case for renewable energy. That’s why we’re fans of wind and other renewable energy sources.”

Only 11 percent of people globally disagree that we can address climate change if we take action now. And only 4 percent believe that the Earth’s climate is not changing, so there is no need to do anything about it.

However, 61 percent of survey respondents said they hear much more about the negative impacts of climate change than they do about progress on reducing it—which may be contributing to the belief that although the climate is changing, humanity can do nothing to stop it, a mindset the campaign team has dubbed ‘Climate Fatalism’. 14 percent of people globally fall into this category, believing that while the climate is changing, humanity can do nothing to stop it.

“We’re optimists because we know we’re not alone,” said Letitia Webster, VP of global corporate sustainability at VF Corp, in the release. “From the 193 countries that signed The Paris Agreement to the 106 companies globally committed to going 100 percent renewable alongside us, millions of people around the globe are dedicated to innovative solutions to address the challenges. They give us confidence that we can solve this together.”

Young people are especially likely to agree with some fatalistic statements; for example, 22 percent of those aged 16-35 agree that it is now too late to stop climate change, so there is no point in trying, compared with 18 percent of 35-49 year olds and 16 percent of 50-64 year olds.

“Solving climate change starts with the belief that we can, so on the one hand it is thrilling to learn that Climate Optimists already far outweigh Pessimists globally,” said Solitaire Townsend, co-founder of Futerra, speaking at the launch. “However, the dangerous levels of fatalism, especially among young people, give cause for alarm. There are many reasons to believe we’ll solve climate change, but doom, fear and guilt dominate media coverage of this issue. The #ClimateOptimist campaign is designed to change that narrative, because science shows that optimism spurs action.”

The campaign seeks to raise awareness of the solutions to climate change to shift the dominant narrative around the topic and combat fatalism about our future. The approach is grounded in decades of scientific evidence which show that optimism compels action.

“We are climate optimists because we know we can address climate change if we have the right mindset and the right plan,” said Jay D. Gould, CEO of Interface, in the release. “We need to shift our thinking from how we limit our impact on the climate, to how we create a climate fit for life.” Specifically, #ClimateOptimist asks people to:

  • Opt in as a Climate Optimist, and share your belief that we can solve this.
  • Take climate action in your own life, by doing things that will make you healthier and happier.
  • And shine a light on solutions. Find out about the amazing progress already happening.

“Those of us working on climate change every day encounter many exciting solutions that are emerging through policy, business and new technology—but the general public doesn’t always hear this good news,” said Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group, in the release. “This survey sends a promising signal that the world is ready to hear more about the solutions, and work together to solve climate change.”

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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