Put The Kettle On

July 25th, 2012 by becky Leave a reply »

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one among my family and friends who is concerned about climate change and find it difficult to talk to them about it, so this course immediately caught my attention:

How to win the climate change argument in a 15 minute tea breakLow Carbon Hub training course with George Marshall, Director of the Climate Outreach Information Network

I assumed it would provide the basics of the science and some facts to convince people that the wettest June ever (and possibly July too!) was happening for a reason, but it turned out to be far more interesting than that.

We started by identifying different groups of people and how they might feel about climate change. This meant we could find the best ways to approach the subject and avoid alienating them. We took part in a role play exercise putting ourselves in their position.


  • Often single parent families, less well-off older people.
  • May think they have enough on their plate without taking on more problems
  • Best way of communicating could be to mention the savings which could be made by taking action, and the help available.


  • Often middle class retired people
  • Take part in community activities but don’t like change
  • Best way to communicate could be to suggest making small changes at first, to mitigate against bigger changes. Could also suggest they get involved in a community group.


  • Often young people with high disposable incomes
  • Like to show success and buy the latest products
  • Best way to communicate is to avoid language of giving things up and highlight the opportunities available eg. green economy


  • Often young people who take part in campaigning and feel strongly about certain issues
  • Want to make the world better but often travel extensively to do this
  • May already be engaged, but local issues could be promoted.

We discussed the language we use to talk to people about climate change and George surprised most of us by putting up a list of words he believes can backfire; eco, green and sustainable.

That left a lot of us puzzled about how we can discuss climate change (and thinking of potential new names for our community groups!). George recommended words like clean and healthy, which have positive connotations for most people.

After a quick break for a drink and some amazing homemade cookies, we talked about people who had inspired us. We explored how they may have done this and how we can take on such qualities which included not preaching.

George related this back to the idea of the power of ‘I’; a way of explaining something you feel strongly about by relating it to yourself. This puts your story and feelings across in a way that may plant a seed in someone else. When thinking about the person who inspired me I could see that this was the technique they had used, and when we practised speaking in this way in pairs we could all see how effective something so simple could be.

The course certainly exceeded my expectations and has shown me new communication skills I can apply in both my work and personal life. If the course is run again I would encourage anyone who has the chance to go along!


1 comment

  1. Kate Griffin says:

    Great blog post! You’ve convinced me: if the course happens again I will definitely sign up.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.