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European Climate Pact

How to talk to people about climate action

How do you convince someone to take action on climate change? Given the urgency and seriousness of the climate crisis, we need bold systemic changes, and we all need to do our bit. But some people are more reluctant than others, and what you say to them really can make a difference!

This toolkit helps you to explain and communicate climate action to your community. We present 6 common arguments people use to justify their inaction, along with suggestions on how you can respond to each of them. We also provide some tips on how to talk about climate change.

93%
More than nine in ten Europeans believe that climate change is a serious problem

Nudge into making a difference 

What can you say that might nudge your friends and peers into making a difference?

It might be a challenging conversation, but just by speaking to a few friends and peers, you contribute to protecting our future on planet Earth. We hope this guide will help you understand why some people haven’t yet taken climate action. Don’t forget, our power comes from speaking up!

Although scientists have sounded increasingly dire warnings, they also say it’s not too late to take action to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The more we do now and in the next years before 2030, the more likely we are to keep the global temperature rise to under 1.5°C, and namely, keep climate change under control (e.g. slow Arctic and Antarctic ice melt, reduce the occurrence of extreme weather episodes like heatwaves and flooding, and prevent species decline.

Common arguments

How to talk to people about climate action toolkit
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Tips on how to talk to people

  1. Rely on facts and science to start with. Follow the work of scientists working for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); read their reports on climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for reducing the rate at which climate change is taking place; and follow reliable media sources.
  2. Keep it human. Has your area experienced flooding, heatwaves, droughts or forest fires recently? The chances are that more climate disasters – like the ones experienced across Europe and the wider world in recent years – are not that far away in time or distance. These disasters have human consequences and affect the lives of real people, so remind people that global warming is making these catastrophes worse and bringing them closer to home.
  3. Keep it real. Give real-life examples of easy things you and those around you can do for the planet. We are all influenced by others, so try to frame climate action as a movement that people are really involved in and that they shouldn’t miss out on.
  4. Do motivate.Don’t finger-point. Instead of saying, ‘You shouldn’t drive so much’, invite others to walk to the train station with you in the morning and get some exercise. Or highlight the cost savings of consuming less energy at home. It’s important to think of ways to talk about climate action positively, but also to show people there are other benefits.
  5. Stay open-minded. Always try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes – some forms of climate action are not achievable for everyone.
  6. Suggest a follow-up chat. If someone seems keen to know more, or if you don’t have the answer to one of their questions then and there, suggest you get together for a coffee to discuss things further. Or you could take the time to research their question and email them more information about it. And above all, keep it friendly – we’re all in this together. If one conversation isn’t working out, end it for the time being and think about returning to it another time.