What do New Zealanders think about climate change?

So when we want to communicate with New Zealanders on climate change, what do they already think about it?

More than half of New Zealanders are concerned

The latest Colmar Brunton Better Futures report surveyed 1,000 New Zealanders in December 2018 on a wide range of environmental and social issues. For the first time in a decade, more than half of those surveyed expressed a high level of concern about climate change.

People want to do more

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority commissioned research by TRA in 2018. More than 80% of New Zealanders, including businesses, believe that climate change is happening. 88% of people want companies to do more, and 76% want the government to do more. Most people (79%) acknowledge they themselves could be doing more to act on climate change.

So New Zealanders want individuals, business and government to do more on climate change. It doesn’t sound to me like we’re ignoring it, despite some media coverage to this effect. What are the lessons for climate change communication?

  1. We don’t need to scare them. As I mentioned before, scaring people can lead to lack of action.
  2. We could explain the science – but it looks like most people are already convinced about the need to act. So… 
  3. We could just get straight to the action.
Source: Colmar Brunton Better Futures Report 2018

Climate FOMO

How do we share with New Zealanders the action they can take, and tell the story about what government and business are already doing (while keeping the momentum for further action)?

It’s easier to get people on board if they feel like others are already taking action. I’m looking for collective stories about what groups and communities are already doing to reduce emissions, please get in touch if you have stories to share.

Already on my radar are Fly-Less Kiwis (on Facebook), Transition Towns and the NZ Climate Action Network, and I’ll talk more about those in another post.

One key may be in the work that TRA and True did on Kiwi Cultural Codes. They looked at what does it mean to be a Kiwi today, and came up with six cultural codes. Now coincidentally, three of these: Individuality and self-determination, social equivalence, and connection to nature, map closely to the three positive values that Common Cause identifies as being helpful for framing messages. Seems like all roads lead back to Common Cause, huh?


Author: Catherine Jeffcoat

Wellington-based communications manager.

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