Encouraging sustainable behaviour

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There is now a great deal of inform­a­tion avail­able about how to pro­mote sus­tain­able beha­viours – but it can be con­fusing identi­fying the evid­ence that really matters.

This com­pre­hensive col­lec­tion of cli­mate change com­mu­nic­a­tion resources provides a clear, straight­for­ward and prac­tical list of the many guides and hand­books that pro­mote sus­tain­able beha­viours among indi­viduals and com­munities, and this sec­tion con­tains an out­line of the key find­ings from studies of public per­cep­tions of cli­mate change.

Talking Climate also con­tains a series of more focused sum­maries of research on spe­cific aspects of sus­tain­able beha­viour. Targeting social net­works is an important but often neg­lected method of influ­en­cing sus­tain­able beha­viour. This guide describes the best research on how to use social net­works and social norms to encourage not only indi­viduals but groups and com­munities to engage in more sus­tain­able pat­terns of behaviour.

The pre­dicted effects of cli­mate change are scary – but there is now a solid body of research that shows that ‘scare tac­tics’ only work under cer­tain con­di­tions. This guide explains when using the fear of future prob­lems works for motiv­ating sus­tain­able beha­viours, and when it doesn’t.

Lots of beha­viours do not involve con­scious decisions – they are habits, which means they can be tricky to change. But one area of psy­cho­lo­gical research on how to break bad habits and create new ones provides cru­cial guid­ance for tar­geting beha­viours that are not ‘deliberate’.

One strategy for pro­moting sus­tain­able beha­viours is known as ‘social mar­keting’. Social mar­keting uses insights from mar­keting and applies them to pro-social beha­viour. This guide explains what social mar­keting has to offer, but also points out some of the draw­backs of this approach and out­lines dif­ferent strategies that go beyond social mar­keting. Talking Climate also con­tains a sec­tion focusing spe­cific­ally on the approach taken by the UK gov­ern­ment in attempting to influ­ence sus­tain­able beha­viour – based largely on social mar­keting prinicples.

A new approach that goes beyond social mar­keting – and is rap­idly growing in pop­ularity – starts from the idea that chan­ging beha­viours is impossible unless you begin with people’s per­sonal values. All cam­paigns speak to cer­tain values, and all mes­sages are framed in a par­tic­ular way. Getting to grips with the right values and frames for pro­moting sus­tain­able atti­tudes and beha­viours is essen­tial for any cli­mate change communicator.

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