Since there are no currently active contests, we have switched Climate CoLab to read-only mode.
Learn more at
Skip navigation
Share via:


To address global warming there must be a shift in thinking and behavior that motivates people and organizations.



 In order to motivate people to alter their views and behaviors related to global warming, leaders within all level of government, the private sector, non-profits and communities must become aware of and utilize the fundamentals of effective climate communications, outreach, and behavioral change mechanisms.

Even simple actions taken at the household and organizational levels can rapidly and significantly reduce carbon emissions. Making these changes would buy time and build public support for new policies that could spur greater reductions.

Category of the action

Changing public perceptions on climate change

What actions do you propose?

The key actions are:

Step1: Creating the Tension Required to Motivate People to Address Global Warming: General concern about global warming is not enough. For people, organizations or society as a whole to take meaning action, they must feel sufficient “tension” between some deeply held goals or values and their current condition.

To motivate people to alter their thinking and behavior, global warming must be better understood and made more relevant to people’s lives and the things they deeply care about. The following framing approaches have proven effective in adding tension to the global warming conversation.

  1. Illustrate What It Means For the Climate to Change
  2. Leverage the Idea of “Too Much Carbon”
  3. Convey the link between energy and global warming.
  4. Emphasize That We Are At a Crossroads


Six Challenges in Building Tension for Action

1. The Terrarium Challenge

“You watch those commercials (about polar bears), and I cry when I see them.I just can’t stand to see them sitting on their little ice floe that used to be Greenland and now it’s two ice cubes in the middle of the ocean.”

2. The Weather Challenge

“You can’t do anything about the weather.”

3. The Warming Challenge

“People are talking about global warming. It’s freezing outside.”

4. The Someday Challenge

“It’s a tough problem. We need those green jobs that they’re talking about to invent technologies that haven’t been invented yet.”

5. The Technology Will Save Us Challenge

“I don’t remember exactly what it was, but they talked about putting the CO2 back into the ground and storing it. I think they’ve started doing that in Germany.”

6. The Long List of Impacts Challenge

Highlighting a lot of examples of frightening global warming impacts does not increase issue urgency. In fact, a long list of impacts can seem exaggerated or disconnected from people’s daily lives.

The Need to Build Awareness of Larger Climate Impacts

The following terms are not common with the public, yet but help create tension around global warming:

“Rapid climate shift”

“Climate disruption”

“Climate shock”

“Climate breakdown”

“Climate failure”

Step2: Building Efficacy for Addressing Global Warming

To motivate people to engage in activities that can reduce global warming, climate leaders must build people’s sense of efficacy. Building efficacy involves communicating real- world examples of actions and policies that are successfully reducing carbon emissions. Climate leaders must also show how individuals can make a difference and that taking action will help people live according to their values.

Five Challenges in Building Efficacy

1. The Kitchen Sink Environmentalism Challenge

“I believe we are all working on it: you with your recycling; me with not using pesticides; you with community planning. We are all doing something because that all affects global warming.”

2. The Leaders Are Taking Care of It Challenge

“Surely lots of scientists and technical types, who can actually make a difference, are working on this issue.”

3. The Little Things Make a Difference Challenge

“I’m just a little person that does a little bit. If a lot of people did a little bit, then it would add up.”

4. The Perfection Challenge

“Even these compact fluorescent light bulb that we’re saying are so wonderful, they have a certain amount of mercury in them. They have a certain amount of bad chemicals and the phosphors that allow the fluorescent light to work.”

5. The Environmental Overload Challenge

Green is now a buzzword being used by everyone to sell everything. The public is getting competing and sometime conflicting about the environment from business, government and nonprofits.

Step 3: Building the Benefits of Addressing Global Warming

Three challenges in conveying the benefits of addressing global warming

  1. The Energy Cost Challenge
  2. The Identity Challenge
  3. Environmental Fatalism Challenge

Step4: Understanding and Connecting with Audiences: Conveying concepts that can build awareness and concern is critical; the challenge is how best to do it given there is no such thing as the general public.


The 5D Staged Approach to Change:

  • Disinterest
  • Deliberation
  • Design
  • Doing
  • Defending


  1. Reaching People at the Early Stages of Change
  • DISTURBANCES: Disturbances in our lives are often needed to trigger the reframing process that can move people out of the disinterested phase of change on global warming.
  • BUILDING AWARENESS: Awareness campaigns should keep in mind the need to always emphasize the three keys to change- tension, efficacy, and benefits- and must be framed in ways that resonate with target audiences.

Who will take these actions?

 Governments, Local government, International organizations, Environmentalist, Economist, Researchers, Sociologist, NGOs, INGOs, Communication medias, Private sector, and other concerned parties.

Where will these actions be taken?

Any part of the World.

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

What are other key benefits?

The key benefits are:

  1. People thinking about climate change which ultimately change their behaviors.
  2. Individual to know the better knowledge of climate change and it’s phenomenon.
  3. Community is well enable to respond the adapt and mitigate measures of climate change.

What are the proposal’s costs?

Proposal cost will be determined by the type of project, Site of project, duration of time, implementing agencies, type of technology used in the project site.

Time line

Depending on the nature of project, site of project, amount of budget, type of technology used in project site. Generally, the project time line in short term 5-15 years for baseline survey, creating awareness of local communities, building networks, making policies and Research. After, 15 years, in medium term 15-50 years, implement the project activities timely and monitor regularly. After, 50 years, long term evaluates the project goals and outcomes.

Related proposals