Innovation That Matters

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"We need to tell people they are trashing the planet in a new way”


How can we combat green fatigue in climate comms?

Consumers are bored of ‘green’ messaging.  News audiences “zone out” of stories about climate protests and 1.5 degrees because “they are boring, they are not new,” according to Angela Dewan – CNN International Climate Editor –  who didn’t pull punches during her keynote address at ChangeNOW in March. “We need to tell people they are trashing the planet in a new way.”

Corporate communication is not immune either and sustainability teams could learn something from climate storyteller Qiyun Woo (胡绮芸), who publishes on Instagram under the handle The Weird and Wild and who also appeared at ChangeNOW. Her work is informed by her training in climate science and her ‘day job’ as a sustainability consultant in Singapore. Qiyun seeks to explain climate-related concepts or terminology through cartoon-style, vibrant graphics.

“Very simple things like scope 1, 2, or 3, not everyone gets it,” she says. “There are terms that sustainability consultants use a lot and they don’t always work when you are trying to persuade people to send you your fuel data because it feeds into a particular category of emissions. And If I’m trying to persuade someone involved in actually doing this work and they don’t get it, how is someone on the outside of the organisation going to read a sustainability report that is 70 pages long and understand it? Corporate speak is just jargon, we are going to leave so many people behind.”

It feels like there is an opportunity for corporates to connect successfully with their consumers, stakeholders or internal teams, if they get the tone and the content right. The 2024 findings of the annual Edelman Trust Barometer show a worrying decline in trust in public institutions, including government and the media, with CEOs most trusted to lead on bringing innovation to society.

We recently spoke with author and Bloomberg Climate Reporter Akshat Rathi (check out the interview). He regularly talks to CEOs, politicians, and heads of international organisations.

“The individuals who stand out are the ones who can articulate why things haven’t moved, point to the barriers, and show what they are doing to overcome those. Once you are at the level of CEO, you are typically doing all sorts of things and climate is just one part of it. A good test if someone actually cares about the climate is if they can talk to a climate reporter about their grasp of the subject and if they are able to articulate beyond the talking points a comms person has given them.”

Subject matter knowledge, communicating in a way that feels ‘real’, and an injection of creativity – could this be the new way to tell people that they are trashing the planet? Maybe just one missing ingredient, a suggestion for solutions that could help fix the problem. Where do you go for those? Well, Springwise, of course.

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Words: Angela Everitt