Effective municipal climate action requires co-operation between climate experts and communicators

News 2023-01-09 at 13:15

Finnish Environment Institute, press release 2023/1/9

New research reveals a gap between climate action and communication in municipalities. With limited resources, climate communication is mostly done by those doing climate work, not communication experts. Internal exchange of information on climate issues is often low, further complicating climate communication. A quick way to improve the effectiveness of municipalities’ climate communications is to strengthen cooperation between climate experts and communicators.

The research article titled "Municipal climate communication as a tool in amplifying local climate action and developing a place brand", written by researchers of the Finnish Environment Institute, was recently published in Environmental Research Communications. To date, there have been few studies on the connections between municipal climate action, communication and branding.

According to the study, climate actions and communication should be seen as a whole. Building communication and branding around climate action without real actions to lean on speaks to greenwashing and can lead to a reputational crisis.

On the other hand, if climate actions are implemented but not communicated, their catalytic and image-improving effects remain unexploited. Climate networks have previously been proven to enhance local climate action, yet members still face challenges, for example with public engagement.

"Climate work is boosted when it is seen as a central strategic part of municipal activities and is clearly linked to the municipality's brand and communication. Climate communication can be seen as an investment that amplifies climate action," says Coordinator Venla Riekkinen from the Finnish Environment Institute.

According to Riekkinen municipal climate actions not only lay foundations for companies and residents to reduce their own emissions but by showing an example, encourage different actors to participate in climate work. Indeed, over a third of survey participants agreed that a climate brand can affect citizens' actions.

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