Use of fear in climate communications is counter-productive

Use of fear in climate communications is counter-productive

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Date: 2nd December 2012
Author: CDKN Global
Type: News

This morning at the Development and Climate Days, colleagues from the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre ran an interactive session on how different film-making techniques can spread knowledge and spur action on climate change. The event, Beyond the Film Festival, placed the audience in the role of film critics, to assess whether different techniques create positive or negative reactions. Although responses are very subjective, the 20-strong group of researchers, practitioners and climate negotiators did share some common views:

- Humour works – a new, short animation called History of the Climate Change Negotiations in 83 Seconds drew universal applause with its tongue-in-cheek representation of international climate politics.
- New perspectives are intriguing –  participants liked an Ethiopian Red Cross Film that puts cameras into the hands of farmers to document their own struggles with and solutions to climate change.
- Use children’s voices carefully - British school children’s home-made claymation film was a hit: The Other CO2 Problem describes how CO2 emissions are harming the oceans. Participants liked the genuine use of children’s voices to bring new perspectives, but disliked films where children’s voices seemed to be manipulated by the producers.
- Fear is counter-productive – several of the short films screened tried to galvanise the audience into climate action through use of threat and fear, but these provoked a hostile audience reaction.

The event finished with a speed group activity, in which participants drafted short ‘story boards’ (narratives) for applying innovative film techniques to their own climate stories.  With the creative juices flowing, most felt that they’d gained new angles on story-telling, and even some new skills to bring home.

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