27 September 2016

Word to use

We can help change the public conversation by the words we use when we talk about climate, and in particular by correcting the fallacies that often appear in articles and climate messaging.

This page is a work in progress. Please email info@ClimateEmergencyDeclaration.org to suggest changes or additions.

…rather than:

climate emergency
global warming, climate change

dangerous fossil fuels
polluting or dirty fossil fuels

safe renewable energy
clean energy

dangerous levels of atmospheric carbon
climate pollution, carbon pollution



There is no carbon budget left[*]
Our carbon budget will be used up in x years

We need net zero emissions ASAP and carbon drawdown to save coral reefs (a major source of food for millions of people)
Stop Adani to save the Reef

People are already dying due to climate impacts
Greenhouse gas emissions reductions of x per cent by 2030/2050 is a reasonable target

Sea level rise is already forcing people from their homes in Alaska, Bangladesh, and the Pacific
Sea level rise will be a problem later this century

Climate is already dangerous at around 1°C above pre-industrial times
A rise of 1.5°C above pre-industrial times is the safe limit

The Paris Accord will take us to 2.7°C–3.5°C in this century
The Paris Accord will limit warming to 2°C or even 1.5°C

People are already anxious about climate and will engage if you also spell out what we all can do to reverse the emergency
You can’t talk about a climate emergency because people will just switch off

We are already over 1°C, and even if we stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow, another 0.5°C rise is already locked in.
We should try to keep temperature rise to no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial times

[*] The IPCC reports that “to provide a 93% mid-value probability of not exceeding [a dangerous post-industrial increase of] 2°C, the concentration [of atmospheric greenhouse gases] would need to be stabilised at, or below, 350 ppm CO2-equivalent, that is, below current levels, which means no carbon budget left for 2°C.”

Use the Common Cause ‘sandwich’ messaging principle

One Common Cause messaging principle is to ‘sandwich’ threatening news in between appeals to our higher ‘universal’ values. Here is an example of how you could apply that principle to our climate emergency declaration campaign messaging:

“People are great at rising to the occasion in an emergency. If you happen to be there when a fire or flood occurs, chances are you’ll pitch in alongside emergency service workers to do whatever is needed. Neighbours help neighbours, and strangers help strangers.

We are now in the biggest emergency ever – the climate emergency. Already people are dying and ecosystems are being destroyed.

We know what needs to be achieved – right now – and we already have the technology to do it. We must face up to climate facts, go into emergency mode, and throw everything we’ve got at restoring a safe climate.

We know from our experience of full-scale wartime mobilisations that amazing economic transformations can be achieved in just a few years when we face an existential threat. Let’s demand equally strong leadership and action from our peacetime government in order to protect everything we love.

Join us in petitioning the Australian Parliament to declare a climate emergency and mobilise society-wide resources at sufficient scale and speed to protect civilisation, the economy, people, species, and ecosystems.”

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