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How to engage people in the climate change discussion

The climate change discussion needs continued, targeted engagement. Here, we discuss the best ways to approach this.
© EIT Climate-KIC and Project InsideOut

One burning issue for anyone involved in the environmental field is how to engage and support pro-environmental behaviour change and/or social transformation. Here, we will start to explore how to do just that.

What is engagement?

‘Engage’:
  • Occupy or attract (someone’s interest or attention).
  • Participate or become involved in (occupy oneself with, throw oneself into).
  • Establish a meaningful contact or connection with (someone/people or a cause).
This capacity is vital to successfully launch and scale technological/business model innovations, especially where society/citizens favour traditional solutions.

The psychosocial dimension

​​”Nothing that we do – no matter how brilliant, how technologically innovative – can reach the traction and impact that we need it to be … unless we begin to very rapidly skill-up our insights and capacities for understanding the psychological dimension of climate change.”

Renée Lertzman

The so-called ‘psychosocial’ dimensions of climate change are so important for designing more effective engagement strategies.

The term psychosocial refers to the interplay between our psychology and the social and cultural context in which we live. It literally means psychological + social.

Psychosocial research probes below-the-surface motivations that drive our actions and choices.

This field recognises that appeals to people’s rationality or facts about our crises are not sufficient unless campaigners and communicators address how people manage their complex relationships with the natural world, and the changes our climate crisis requires us to make. This includes anxieties, ambivalence (conflicts and dilemmas), and aspirations and hopes. It also pays attention to guilt, shame, and what best supports people to access creativity and problem-solving.

photo of Renee Lertzman

It’s normal to feel anxious or overwhelmed by climate change, says Psychologist and Climate Strategist Dr Renée Lertzman (pictured above). But can we turn those feelings into something productive? In the video (link below), Lertzman discusses the emotional effects of climate change and offers insights on how psychology can help us discover both the creativity and resilience needed to act on environmental issues.

How to turn climate anxiety into action

© EIT Climate-KIC and Project InsideOut
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Real Climate Action: How to Engage People in Climate Change

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