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Top sustainable communications resources

Next in our series of top behaviour change resources is sustainable communications. Need to know how inspire people rather than scare them? Want to know what some of the latest research shows? Read on!

1. Since 2001 Futerra have become the go-to people for sustainable communications. Their original set of principles were distilled in Rules of the Game  in 2005, while the more recent Sell the Sizzle looks at the bigger picture and and one of their core ideas: the need to sell sustainable heaven before selling unsustainable hell. Their latest, Games Theory, talks about how to use the Olympics to inspire more sustainable behaviours.

2. Er, a bit of a shameless plug here, but in my defence this is a collection of essays by other people. Green Alliance‘s 2010 pamphlet From Hot Air to Happy Endings: How to inspire public support for a low carbon society featured the eminent linguist George Lakoff on why you should never utter the words “protecting the environment”, Chris Rose on why visual communication is as important as words, COIN’s George Marshall on choosing the right messenger, and other excellent contributions from Interbrand’s Rita Clifton, and Green Alliance’s associate Ian Christie.

3. Social Marketing gets critiqued in Communicating climate change to mass public audiences by the Climate Change Communication Advisory Group, coordinated by Dr Adam Corner. Offering a good synthesises much of the available research on sustainable communications, it argues that communicators shouldn’t ‘sell’ individual behaviours at the cost of undermining their overall aims.

4. Ecoamerica‘s Climate and Energy Truths: Our Common Future tested what language and framing that the American public responds well to . It advocates appealing American values, such as leadership and national security, and using more visual, evocative language such as ‘clean air’ and ‘dirty coal’.

5. In a similar vein, this interesting study on Reframing climate change as a public health issue shows that people react more positively when told about the human health health impacts of climate change, such as a rise in infectious diseases. People responded even more positively to hearing about the health benefits of a sustainable future.

6. The book Engaging the public with climate change: Behaviour change and communication edited by academics Lorraine Whitmarsh, Saffron O’Neill & Irene Lorenzoni contains a great mixture of useful case studies and research.

7. IPPR‘s Consumer Power report and Global Cool‘s work both focus on reaching trend-setters within society in order to make green living cool. This TEDx talk by Global Cool’s director Caroline Fiennes is worth watching.

8. Professor Nick Pidgeon and colleagues at Cardiff university have done lots of good research into public perceptions of climate and energy issues, including papers on the effects of positive and negative framing, and public perceptions of climate and energy futures in Britain, with pollsters Ipsos MORI.

That’s all I’ve got time for now, but if I’ve missed any good resources out, please add them in the comments below.

Written by

Sylvia was the editor of Green Alliance's blog from 2010 to April 2013. She is an assistant producer on Al Jazeera English's flagship environmental show, earthrise, and an award-winning print journalist who writes for publications including the Guardian, the Evening Standard and New Scientist. She was previously a policy adviser at Green Alliance.

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