23rd Aug 2023
3 Min Read

Curbing climate change starts with carbon-literate communications

Declan Newcombe
Declan Newcombe
People & Change

Carbon solutions shouldn’t require a dictionary to detangle, says sustainability champion and newly-qualified carbon literate consultant Harry Grout.

Few can deny that the climate is changing. Its most powerful adversaries should be corporate behemoths and, in name, that’s certainly the case. The public is calling for action and they’re responding with bold pledges, but they won’t get there alone. Employees are the foundation of any business’s carbon strategy.

But here’s the catch: when we start throwing around terms such as sequestration and shine a light on the incomprehensible amounts of carbon in the atmosphere, how can businesses possibly expect their people to understand what they’ve signed up to deliver, the impact that will have and how colleagues can do their bit?

“The climate crisis is a communication crisis,” explains Harry. “It’s such a huge and complex topic; there’s a disconnect meaning people aren’t fully buying into the solutions – and businesses have a big part to play in resolving that.”

To help comms teams make their sustainability messages hit home, Harry is now certified as ‘carbon literate’. He demystifies scientific gobbledygook, revealing the deeper meaning behind carbon emissions, how they’re affecting the climate and what we can do about it.

Harry adds: “Most businesses have net zero policies, but not everyone will know how and why that matters. That’s why we have to get people onboard. It’s about making it more digestible so we can all see the benefits. That turns people into solutionists; people who can solve problems instead of just spotting them.”

Making the complex, simple

Even the smallest everyday actions can have a negative impact on the planet. Clicking send on that short email could mean a power-hungry server throws out 0.3 grams of carbon. That might not sound like much, but when we send an estimated 347 billion emails globally each day, it adds up. Countering small actions with better habits can be the catalyst for greater change.

Harry adds: “It’s about empowering people to understand the impact they have and the part that they can play in driving solutions. As communicators, that’s our role: to make the complex, simple. And with a subject like climate change, we have our work cut out.”

Despite the challenge, we can’t let the perfect prevent progress. Thankfully, carbon-savvy organisations are beginning to understand this.

“Just look at Coldplay: the band released a sustainability report for its tour. It wasn’t perfect, in fact it highlighted improvements to make. The point is that the communication showed impact and next steps – and that’s progress.”

Driving change, whatever the weather

We all have our own reasons to act on climate change – and those differ, person to person.

“I don’t want to live in a volatile world,” says Harry. “I don’t want to fight for water or shade and I don’t want my daughter to have to, either. That’s my reason to act. But I understand others won’t have the same motivation.

“We all need to find our own reasons to act, but if we can understand other’s reasons – then we can create solutions together.”

We help global brands communicate their sustainability efforts every day. Click here to talk to Harry.

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