Communicating science with hope, not fear

Communicating science with hope, not fear

New climate communications

With the start of a new year comes renewed hope and promises. But for those of us invested in solving climate change and developing a sustainable future, that renewed promise often comes from the annual UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP) rather than 1 January.

We hoped that COP28, held at the end of last year, would generate real action on emissions. This COP was the first at which it was officially acknowledged that fossil fuels were the cause of our warming climate. New targets were set to transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems ‘in a just, orderly and equitable manner’ to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 – although many believe the language used in these targets is too weak.

While this message is positive, it’s not our first time hearing emission reduction promises. Over the years, many net-zero strategies have been promised and then forgotten. Historically, nothing has held businesses or organisations accountable for their targets. However, one of the latest directives from COP27 and COP28 focuses on ensuring businesses and institutions are transparent with their targets and their plans to achieve net zero emissions. This accountability and transparency are intended to generate actionable targets rather than green-washed policies. Ensuring organisations communicate and achieve their net-zero targets does send a strong message of hope; we can still take action to prevent dangerous climate change. 

The recurring nature of COP is also a promise that the world will continue coming together to tackle climate change. At the very least, each COP plays an important role in publicising the issue of climate change.

Focus on communicating climate change solutions rather than the problem

Communicating climate change accurately and effectively is vital. There is urgency in action to hold warming at or below 1.5 °C. But if the narrative is focussed too much on fear without hope, communication can be ineffective.

People need hope and a way forward. Stories can evoke audience empathy and help us gain a deeper understanding of each other’s experiences. Storytelling can help encourage local action.

At Scientell, we are experienced at producing compelling science narratives. Much of our work is on climate change and environmental sustainability. We understand the need to evoke action while still being scientifically accurate.

Here are some of our tips on how to communicate climate change effectively and accurately while promoting climate action:

  • understand your audience and target your approach to what interests and motivates them
  • tell compelling narratives or stories interwoven with facts, rather than just straight facts
  • use consistent messaging
  • use accessible, clear language that avoids despair
  • draw on credible information
  • focus on what is known rather than the uncertainties
  • offer tangible actions and solutions.

If you need help communicating your science, please contact us at


Date Posted:

January 29, 2024