Communicating Climate Change in India

Communicating Climate Change in India

Category: Reports

Source: Climate Outreach

Author(s): George Marshall, Shailendra Yashwant, Chris Shaw, Jamie Clarke

Year: 2017


A large body of research shows that people need to understand climate change as a narrative, containing their own language and shaped by their own values and experience. Most climate change language however is dry, technical or too based in the campaign culture of the Global North. To date, there has been very little research into effective climate change communications for any Southern country.

This research is our first step towards redressing the balance. It finds the language around climate change and renewables that speaks best to the values and identity of people across India – a country chosen because of its critical importance in the world of climate change. It explores the attitudes of a wide range of people: urban professionals, remote farmers, people of progressive and conservative political values, and the young people who will determine the future of the country.

This research breaks new ground in three areas:

• Firstly, this is the first qualitative research in India that tests and compares specific language around climate change and renewable energy. We hope this is the start of a process of defining distinctly Indian narratives.
• Secondly, this study goes far beyond traditional focus groups and asks searching questions about people’s values, identity and hopes for the future. This has added confidence and richness to all our findings.
• Finally, and most significantly, this work pilots a new model of cooperative design that avoids the high cost of professional research, by training national partners to conduct research themselves with their own audiences. This method invests in the skills and capacity of national level organisations and makes high quality research affordable in low-income countries.

This report is only a start. Our research cannot claim to represent the diversity of attitudes in this exceptionally large country. Nonetheless, we believe that it provides good foundations for further work and clear warnings that some familiar campaign language may not work well enough.

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