.

  • Written by Chloe Lucas, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Tasmania

So much for Australia’s “climate election”. In the event, voters in last month’s federal poll didn’t put climate policy at the top of their wish list.

Contrary to opinion polls predicting a groundswell of support for Labor’s relatively progressive agenda on climate and economics, the election results revealed that Australians are more divided on climate change than we thought.


Read more: Australians disagree on how important climate change is: poll


Voters for progressive climate policy were dismayed at the re-election of a prime minister who famously brought a lump of coal into Parliament. Perhaps understandably, one of the immediate responses among these progressive voters was to express anger at those who don’t share their concern.

But anger feeds a divisive politics that cannot help us to address our big collective challenges. By retreating into social media echo chambers where mockery and disrespect are the norm, we risk losing entirely the social cohesion and trust needed for democracy to work.

A whole-of-society discussion about our collective future is urgently needed. Now is the time to reinvent how we communicate about climate change, particularly with those who don’t see it as an urgent concern. Here’s how.

Addressing the ‘climate-unconcerned’

Contrary to the assumption that unconcern about climate change is evidence of selfishness or politically motivated denial, our research shows that people who resist climate concern are just as likely to be caring, ethical and socially minded as anyone else.

While there is a small minority of people who actively campaign against climate action, within society at large, those who are simply unconcerned about the climate crisis encompass a broad range of political views and levels of political engagement.

Far from being prejudiced, unreasonable, apathetic or ignorant, our studies in Australia and the UK show that many people who are unconcerned about the climate nevertheless care about issues including justice, the common good, and the health of ecosystems.

Belonging to a social group that doesn’t have its own narratives of climate concern is one of the most common reasons for unconcern. People who are unconcerned about climate change often see it as a “greenie” issue. If they identify themselves as opposed to green politics, they are unlikely to prioritise calls for climate action.

The rural/city divide also plays a key part in polarising narratives of climate action, as regional and outer-urban Australians, who are more likely to be economically dependent on natural resources, feel ignored and devalued by policies designed to appeal to capital city electorates. If we want to break down polarisation on climate change, we need to understand what matters to rural and conservative social groups.

Bridging the divide

Our findings suggest a set of principles for engaging with people who are unconcerned about climate change:

  • Respect difference. Don’t assume that being unconcerned about climate change is a moral failing. People have other active concerns that are no less valid.

  • Listen. Build relationships with people who have different life experiences to your own, by asking what is important to them. Appreciate that some people may find social change more threatening and immediate than climate change. Empathising with this feeling can foster understanding of the core concerns that underpin resistance to change, and potentially help identify ways to address these concerns.

  • Value values. Avoid arguments based on appeals to the authority of science, or the consensus of expert opinion. “Debating the science” is a red herring – people’s responses to claims about climate change are motivated primarily by what they value, and the narratives of their social group, not their acceptance of scientific fact. Focus on values you might have in common, rather than getting caught up in disputes over facts.

  • Move beyond Left and Right. Don’t conflate political ideology with stance on climate. Showing that climate is not a defining issue for social groups is really important to avoid polarisation. We need to work against the idea that action on climate is an exclusively left-wing or “greenie” agenda.

Adopting these principles can help to build a political culture around climate science and policy that responds to the different priorities of Australians, all of whom are simply seeking a safe and secure future. This approach recognises that no action on climate change is possible without public trust and involvement in democratic institutions.

What can we learn from the UK?

Australia’s parliamentary system and media environment have much in common with that of the UK. Although the UK has not been immune to political divisions on climate change, with levels of concern typically higher on the political left than on the right, Britain has maintained a bipartisan approach.

With the help of intiatives supporting a pluralistic approach to climate policy discussions, the UK Climate Change Act passed into law in 2008 with almost unanimous cross-party support.


Read more: The UK has a national climate change act – why don't we?


Research in the UK has provided an evidence-based set of language and narratives to use when discussing climate change. This is focused on core socially conservative values such as maintaining the status quo (protecting it from a changing climate), avoiding waste (of household energy), and investing in secure (renewable) energy. There is also a push to reinvigorate democratic debate through citizens’ assemblies on climate change.

Now is the time for Australians to listen to each other, and develop a pluralistic approach to discussions on our shared future. The alternative is to sink deeper into partisan hostility and recrimination. And after a decade of division on climate policy, is that really the best way forward?

Chloe Lucas is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Tasmania. Her research on unconcern about climate change was funded by the Australian Government Research Training Program. She currently receives funding from the Australian Research Council. She is a member of the Institute of Australian Geographers and the International Environment Communication Association.

Adam Corner (as a member of staff at Climate Outreach) receives funding from a number of philanthropic foundations including KR Foundation, and the European Climate Foundation, as well as UK Research Councils including the Economic and Social Research Council.

Aidan Davison receives funding from the Australian Research Council.

Peat Leith currently receives funding from the Soil CRC and has previously had research funded by various State and Commonwealth Government agencies and Rural Research and Develop Corporations.

Authors: Chloe Lucas, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Tasmania

Read more http://theconversation.com/not-everyone-cares-about-climate-change-but-reproach-wont-change-their-minds-118255

An 8-year-old made US$22 million on YouTube, but most social media influencers are like unpaid interns

A whopping 12% of the population aged 13 to 38 consider themselves social influencers, according to marketing company Morning Consult. www.shutterstock.comLike any eight-year-old, Ryan Kaji loves to p...

Dr Natalya Saldanha, Academic, RMIT University - avatar Dr Natalya Saldanha, Academic, RMIT University

Domestic violence will spike in the bushfire aftermath, and governments can no longer ignore it

Over the past two weeks, bushfires have raged across New South Wales and Queensland. While the narrative appears focused on potential causes and political point-scoring, what’s lost in this disc...

Rowena Maguire, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Institute for Future Environments, Queensland University of Technology - avatar Rowena Maguire, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Institute for Future Environments, Queensland University of Technology

The main problem with virtual reality? It's almost as humdrum as real life

Virtual horse racing, at a real racecourse? Zero points for imagination. Rachel Grey/AAP ImageJust a few years ago, virtual reality (VR) was being showered with very real money. The industry raised an...

Tomas Trescak, Senior Lecturer in Intelligent Systems, Western Sydney University - avatar Tomas Trescak, Senior Lecturer in Intelligent Systems, Western Sydney University

Children learn through play – it shouldn’t stop at preschool

Over the next few weeks, many preschoolers will meet their foundation teachers, spend some time in a classroom and hopefully make some new friends. from shutterstock.comThe transition from preschool t...

Kate Noble, Education Policy Fellow, Mitchell Institute, Victoria University - avatar Kate Noble, Education Policy Fellow, Mitchell Institute, Victoria University

GOD save us: greenspace-oriented development could make higher density attractive

The lure of suburbia clearly remains strong. To deal with sprawl, planners need to increase urban density in a way that resonates with the leafy green qualities of suburbia that residents value. Juli...

Julian Bolleter, Deputy Director, Australian Urban Design Research Centre, University of Western Australia - avatar Julian Bolleter, Deputy Director, Australian Urban Design Research Centre, University of Western Australia

Re-imagining a museum of our First Nations

The Quandamooka Art, Museum and Performance Institute offers a new way of considering the shape of First Nations museums in Australia. Cox Architecture/QYACIndigenous voices are finally being ackno...

Kieran Wong, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Monash University - avatar Kieran Wong, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Monash University

Making sense of menopausal hormone therapy means understanding the benefits as well as the risks

Grappling with the pros and cons of menopausal hormone therapy can be confusing. From shutterstock.comAt menopause, a woman’s ovaries lose their reproductive function. Eggs are no longer release...

Susan Davis, Chair of Women's Health, Monash University - avatar Susan Davis, Chair of Women's Health, Monash University

What are the best bed sheets

Looking for new bedsheets? With so much choice on the market, finding the best bed sheets can be a challenge – but when you’re between the sheets for so many hours, it’s important to get it ri...

Digital 360 - avatar Digital 360

6 Groovy ‘70s Costume Ideas to Help You Stand Out at Your Next Retro Party

In the early 1970’s Vogue magazine famously proclaimed, “There are no rules in the fashion game now.” Indeed, by following in the footsteps of the ‘60s – defying old traditions and exp...

Digital 360 - avatar Digital 360

Chinese embassy says Liberal critics Hastie and Paterson should “repent”

The Chinese embassy has lashed out at two Liberal members of parliament, Andrew Hastie and James Paterson, saying they would need to “repent and redress their mistakes” before they would b...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

VIDEO: Michelle Grattan on the government's response to the bushfires

University of Canberra Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Geoff Crisp discusses the the week in politics the government’s response to the bush fires as well as the Emergency Leaders for Climate Ac...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Conditions built into Frydenberg's okay for Chinese baby formula takeover

Bellamy’s will have to have to manufacture in Victoria and keep its Australian headquarters for ten years. Bellamy’s AustraliaThe proposed acquisition of infant formula producer Bellamy&rs...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Outdoor Lighting Solutions – How to Make the Right Choice?

Whether it’s your patio, your deck, your porch, or your backyard – your outdoor space needs to be illuminated properly if you want your entire property to look good. This is also a way to boos...

Diana Smith - avatar Diana Smith

Climate change: why Sweden's central bank dumped Australian bonds

Sweden's central bank ways it will no longer invest in assets from governments with large climate footprints, even if the yields were high. ShutterstockWhat’s happening? Suddenly, at the level...

John Hawkins, Assistant professor, University of Canberra - avatar John Hawkins, Assistant professor, University of Canberra

The Conversation Yearbook 2019: celebrate with us and grab your discounted copy

The Conversation's Deputy Health Editor, Phoebe Roth, and Assistant Editor: Technology, Noor Gillani, agree this is the must-have read of 2019. Wes Mountain/The ConversationA little bit of authority ...

Molly Glassey, Digital Editor, The Conversation - avatar Molly Glassey, Digital Editor, The Conversation

Place your bets: will banning illegal offshore sites really help kick our gambling habit?

While total gambling spending in Australia decreased during 2016-17, sports betting increased by 15.3%, from A$921 million to A$1.062 billion. SHUTTERSTOCKThe Australian Communications and Media Auth...

Charles Livingstone, Associate Professor, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University - avatar Charles Livingstone, Associate Professor, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University

Stop the world, I want to get off! In Exit Strategies, one woman leaves and leaves again

The script for Exit Strategies was developed by performer Mish Grigor during an artist’s residency in the UK, against the backdrop of Brexit. Bryony JacksonTo perform an exit is not as simple as...

Sandra D'urso, Researcher, The Australian Centre, University of Melbourne - avatar Sandra D'urso, Researcher, The Australian Centre, University of Melbourne

Sri Lanka election: will the country see a return to strongman politics?

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the frontrunner in Sri Lanka's presidential election, faces a lawsuit in the US for alleged extrajudicial killing and torture. M.A. Pushpa Kumara/EPASri Lanka’s presidential ...

Niro Kandasamy, Tutor, University of Melbourne - avatar Niro Kandasamy, Tutor, University of Melbourne

Is social media damaging to children and teens? We asked five experts

They need to have it to fit in, but social media is probably doing teens more harm than good. from www.shutterstock.comIf you have kids, chances are you’ve worried about their presence on socia...

Alexandra Hansen, Chief of Staff, The Conversation - avatar Alexandra Hansen, Chief of Staff, The Conversation

Sick and Tired of Your Dead End Job? Try Teaching!

Tired of the same old grind at the office? Want an opportunity to impact lives both in your community and around the world? Do you love to travel and have new experiences? Teaching English is the perfect job for you! All you need is a willingness to ...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Impact of an Aging Population in Australia

There’s an issue on the horizon that Australia needs to prepare for. The portion of elderly citizens that make up the country’s overall population is increasing, and we might not have the infrastructure in place to support this. Australians h...

News Company - avatar News Company

LifeStyle

How to Make Your Girlfriend’s Birthday Extra Special

Your girlfriend’s birthday is your opportunity to show her how much you care. But how exactly do...

A Guide to Building Your Kid’s Confidence

As your child grows, confidence is key. Having low self-esteem as a child can have a detrimental e...

3 Hacks that Will Extend the Life of Your Hair Extensions

Everybody has the right to enjoy beautiful, long hair, including you! If you’ve always heard a...

Lessons in Empathy for Children

The ability to be able to understand and share the feelings of a fellow human being – empathy ...