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New Tool and Messaging Techniques Identified to Address Climate Change on a Global Scale

An international collaboration of scientists has developed a groundbreaking tool aimed at enhancing climate awareness and prompting climate action worldwide. Published in the journal Science Advances, the research underscores the effectiveness of tailored messaging in catalyzing support for climate-related policies and behaviors.

Led by Madalina Vlasceanu, an assistant professor at New York University’s Department of Psychology, the study involved nearly 250 researchers and over 59,000 participants from 63 countries. The resulting web-based tool, named the Climate Intervention Webapp, offers a strategic approach to engage diverse audiences by considering factors such as nationality, political ideology, age, gender, education, and income level.

Kimberly Doell, a senior scientist at the University of Vienna and co-author of the paper, highlights the significance of this tool for policymakers and advocates, enabling them to identify messaging strategies tailored to their specific target audiences.

Unlike previous studies that focused on singular private mitigation actions, this research examined a wide range of climate-friendly activities and support for systemic solutions across various countries, including non-western and industrialized nations.

The study tested multiple messaging themes, including presenting the consequences of climate change, highlighting past successful climate actions, emphasizing scientific consensus, and framing climate action as patriotic or popular choices. Results indicated a global consensus on the urgency of climate change, with over 70% of participants supporting systemic climate action.

However, responses varied across countries and demographics. For instance, while emphasizing scientific consensus increased support for climate-friendly policies in some regions, it had the opposite effect in others. Similarly, asking participants to write a letter to a future generation member yielded mixed responses, with notable increases in policy support in certain countries and slight decreases in others.

Interestingly, the study found that “doom and gloom” messaging, while effective in stimulating social media sharing, decreased support for certain climate actions, such as tree-planting initiatives. This suggests that messaging strategies must align with specific objectives and audience characteristics.

In conclusion, the study underscores the importance of tailored messaging in climate communication, emphasizing the need for policymakers and advocates to adapt their outreach strategies based on the beliefs and preferences of their target audiences. By leveraging these insights, stakeholders can enhance global climate awareness and mobilize collective action to address one of the most pressing challenges of our time.

(More information: Madalina Vlasceanu et al, Addressing Climate Change with Behavioral Science: A Global Intervention Tournament in 63 Countries, Science Advances (2024). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adj5778. Journal information: Science Advances; Featured image credit: Freepik)

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