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Talking climate (at Christmas)

10 December, 2021

Talking about the climate emergency can be hard – even for those of us who do it for a living. Have you ever found yourself floundering when attempting to explain why sustainability matters to you, or deliberately steering a conversation away from climate change for fear of ‘killing the mood’?

If so, Climate Outreach’s Talking Climate Handbook might just be your answer. Drawing on a citizen science project with over 550 individuals from over 50 countries, the Handbook provides a simple mnemonic – REAL TALK – to help you remember the basics of having an impactful (and non-excruciating) climate conversation. For example, ‘R’ stands for ‘Respect your conversational partner and find common ground’: rather than blaming, use phrases such as “I find that really hard too” to draw out similarities between your experiences and show you understand their point of view. ‘T’ is ‘Tell your story’: explain why you started caring about climate change, or why you choose to behave in a certain way (like cutting down on meat). Not only are stories unarguable, they can also be more memorable – and motivating – than even the most powerful statistics (plus you don’t have to spend your Christmas memorising facts about extreme weather to impress your relatives…).

Climate conversations may be hard, but they’re a crucial tool in the fight against climate change. So when you’re tucking into your festive turkey (or tofu) or chatting about the weather this festive season, try to see it as an opportunity to share something of yourself – and to learn about others too. You might just be surprised.

By Sarah Howden

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