Simon Maxwell, Executive Chair of CDKN, offers a five-point plan on how
to win the public and policy argument on climate change.
Maxwell argues that a plan is necessary because climate change policy is
contested, and – like all policy – has winners and losers. The five
Find a simple way to tell the story. The key is to simplify
high-level scientific analysis and find a way to make personal,
emotional connections, using images and stories as well as facts and
Create a positive message on the transformational benefits of
taking action. Actions can be taken to: avoid disasters;
find new sources of growth in the green economy; exploit the
potential of climate-induced changes in the world economy; find
synergies and co-benefits from climate action, for example in terms
of pollution or urban congestion. Emphasising the positive impacts,
especially on poor people’s livelihoods, can create positive
messages from these actions.
Craft a policy package that aids transition and helps
losers. This requires careful analysis of winners and
losers, and of the sequencing of reform; packages should then be
designed to protect the welfare of those affected by policy.
Progress towards reform can be fragile, though, and needs to be
Build a leadership group that will deliver a long-term
consensus<i>. </i>Often, this can be done from parliament, for
example via all-party parliamentary groups. Think tanks have an
important part to play in building national policy communities and
in forging consensus. There is also experience of climate-specific
multi-stakeholder processes involving governments, the private
sector and civil society.
Focus relentlessly on implementation<i>. </i>Good planning but
poor implementation is the bane of government action worldwide. But
new lessons are emerging on how to set high-level objectives,
monitor progress over time and set up processes that break
bottlenecks. These are beginning to be applied in the field of
Maxwell, S. How to win the argument on climate change: a five-point plan. Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), (2014) 20 pp.
How to win the argument on climate change: a five-point plan