Communicating Climate – from the NAVCA Climate Network

As part of NAVCA's Climate Network, VAST Project Officer Kezia Liddle and NAVCA Communications Officer Emily Lewis delivered a presentation on communicating the climate crisis to your members.

Why communicating is important:

  • Don’t assume everyone knows everything about the climate emergency;
  • There is a lot of misinformation and disinformation;
  • We can help people make connections between their daily lives and the climate
    emergency through good communication.

Though 88% of charities reported being concerned about the climate crisis, a survey carried out by the Charity Finance Group shows that more than eight in 10 charities don’t yet have a net zero objective, and just over one in 10 currently report on their carbon emissions.

In areas like Stoke-on-Trent, the climate crisis is often seen as a low priority, overshadowed by high-impact local issues like fuel poverty. However, the objectives of many VCSE organisations – fighting poverty, discrimination, inequality – can’t be achieved without climate action. The socially vulnerable groups that charities often work to protect – children, older people, those on lower incomes, people with disabilities, people who are socially isolated, and more – are more likely to be impacted by the effects of climate change. It’s important that we, as trusted organisations in our communities, are able to communicate with these communities about the climate crisis.

How to talk to people about the climate (some quick tips):

Climate Outreach – in particular, Britain Talks Climate: They surveyed a wide range of people and placed them on a political scale – it’s not about left or right wing but about what people care about and why, where their interests are, what common ground we can find with them. It talks about reaching a wide range of people, but it doesn’t demonise particular groups for seeming to care about a certain issue more than others.

  • Meeting people where they’re at – Listen to them and find out what they care about, rather than trying to make people care about the climate crisis from your angle. For example, they might enjoy spending time walking in their local park. Could you help them to consider the impact of pollution or litter on biodiversity, or extreme weather affecting the quality of the park?
  • Connecting to local issues – Think about what’s happening locally and what your community cares about. Is there a way that a local environmental group can connect with a local charity to learn more about each other’s work, to learn different perspectives and see where they can take action together?
  • People want to know what’s in it for them – not in a bad way! People have a lot going on, especially now with challenges such as the cost of living crisis, so it can be helpful to let them know why tackling the climate crisis will benefit them specifically e.g. save money, greener spaces locally, better health.
  • Presenting challenges as opportunities – Be realistic about what is happening, but too much of this can lead to feelings of helplessness and being overwhelmed. One way you could frame it is a big problem = a big opportunity. For example, food and transport are such big parts of everyone’s life, but also areas where we can reduce carbon emissions. Make sure people know that we are in it together and that it doesn’t rest on one person’s shoulders.


How to talk about what you’re doing as an organisation: link to your vision and mission, link it to other areas of your work, relate it to your local community, position yourself as being on a journey along with your community. 


Understanding reliable sources and avoiding misinformation:

In 2022, For the first time in its history, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) named the spread of climate misinformation as an obstruction to climate action. A recent report by advocacy group Stop Funding Heat found that climate misinformation—false information that’s spread either by mistake or with the intent to mislead—gets viewed up to 1.36 million times every day on Facebook alone.

The five primary techniques used to share misinformation are:

  • False expertise: Presenting an unqualified person or institution as a source of credible information.
  • Logical fallacies: Arguments where the conclusions don’t logically follow from the premises.
  • Impossible expectations: Demanding unrealistic standards of proof before acting on the science.
  •  Conspiracy theories: Proposing that a secret plan exists to implement a nefarious scheme, such as hiding a truth.
  • Cherry-picking data: Carefully selecting data that appear to confirm one position while ignoring other data that contradicts that position.


The app “Cranky Uncle” will present you with just that – a cranky, climate-change denying “uncle” whose statements will test your ability to identify misinformation and the techniques they’re using to trick you, intentionally or unintentionally. 


If you’re looking to share information, make sure to check your sources carefully.

When sharing facts and figures, make sure they come from a reliable source, which is science-based (consistent with the latest scientific consensus) and objective (not biased or influenced by financial or political incentives). Look for peer-reviewed articles, or sources with authority (like the IPCC). If you’re reading commentary from an individual’s social media account or blog, question their climate expertise – do they have a scientific background?

To fact check, look for the claim you’re unsure about on Climate Feedback – A Scientific Reference to Reliable Information on Climate Change

Remember to keep an eye out for greenwashing, too – the practice of making false or exaggerated claims about the environmental benefits of a product, service, or company in order to present a misleading image of sustainability or eco-friendliness. Double check that their actions match up with their advertising – the Net Zero Tracker tool can help you identify which companies are following through on their environmental claims.

Remember that as an infrastructure organisation, you are a “trusted messenger” – your members and local communities trust you to share accurate, well-sourced information, and it’s your responsibility to make sure that anything you share is true. If you DO accidentally share information which is incorrect or from an unreliable source, make sure to address the issue – remove the information from any platforms you’ve shared it on, issue an apology, and provide information from a more reputable source