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COPCAS second workshop: Planning, communication, and planning communication

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Although COP26 starts in Glasgow in just under a week, COP CAS 2021 (the 5th annual COP Climate Action Studio hosted by the Walker Academy and SCENARIO DTP) started last week. Our first workshop revolved around practice interviews with board members of the Walker Institute. The second workshop today focused on communication and scheduling; two things that have been worryingly poor throughout the organisation of COP26.

We began by each giving a short presentation about one of the eight themes of COP (finance, energy, youth and public empowerment, nature, adaptation, loss and damage, gender, transport, cities, regions and built environments). That most of us decided to focus on adaptation, loss and damage is telling. The change in the climate conversation from mainly mitigation focused to a more balanced discussion of mitigation and adaptation is a sign of the urgency (and lateness) of climate action. Some of the countries that have been most impacted by climate change so far have already started calling for a 50/50 split for financing mitigation and adaptation, and there will surely be further COPCAS blogs on the topic in the coming weeks. Presentations focused on nature and cities, regions, and built environments highlighted the need to act now to maintain and restore biodiversity as well as avoid the worst of the impacts of climate change.

Peter Gibbs (a science communicator and one of the Walker Institute board members that we interviewed last week) gave us feedback on our presentations and some tips on Effective Messaging.

Tip 1: Create a narrative. People like and remember stories.

Tip 2: Edit ruthlessly. Just keep cutting it down.

Tip 3: Signpost clearly. What you’re going to say, what you’re saying, what you said.

Tip 4: Analogies and comparisons. Used well can be very powerful.

Tip 5: What’s your audience? Target your style and content.

This 5th tip was later reiterated by Ross Fairgrieve (an interdisciplinary researcher at the Walker Institute) who advised us on how to communicate our messages on social media where we’re restricted to 140 characters. Top tip: Ask yourself, “Would you read this tweet?”. 

Some of us will be on the ground in Glasgow, in both the Green Zone and the Blue Zone, and some of us will be working from the Walker Institute at the University of Reading. Throughout the two weeks of COP26 we’ll be writing blog posts, manning the social media accounts, appearing on radio shows, and creating videos; so, follow along, engage with us, and watch this space!

 Written by Gwyneth Matthews, COPCAS student 2021