Seven Strategies of Climate Change Science Communication for Policy Change: Combining Academic Theory with Practical Evidence from Science–Policy Partnerships in Canada

Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


Science–policy communication around climate change is complicated. Climate science communicators would benefit from a synthesized list of messaging strategies that is accessible and practical, but still supported by robust theory. We conducted interviews with participants in partnerships between climate scientists and climate policy makers in Canada. This revealed a number of favoured messaging techniques, which we then analyzed through the lens of communication theory (based on a combination of relevant literatures). The result is a set of seven ready-to-use science–policy messaging strategies vetted both empirically and theoretically. They acknowledge the contextual richness of the Canadian cases being studied but are also sufficiently based on abstract theory to be applied to climate change communication in other cases. Namely, it is important to (1) use the language of “risk” instead of “uncertainty”; (2) highlight effects on everyday activities; (3) emphasize short-term impacts, which can then be linked to the long-term issue; (4) highlight success stories of adapting to the problem; (5) focus on local solutions, which can then be tied to national or global solutions; (6) target politically tractable issues to trigger progress on intractable ones; and (7) facilitate audience ownership of both the problem and its potential solutions.


Canada Climate change Communication theory Messaging strategies Science–policy interfaces 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environment and SustainabilityUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Communication, Media, and FilmUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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