The climate crisis should be communicated as a threat to the country rather than a threat to the planet as a whole, this strategy should improve compliance to the behavioural changes needed to achieve Net Zero. Research by Ipsos MORI shows that citizens view the virus more as a threat to the country than to themselves or their livelihoods, with this sentiment being most prominent during the first lockdown in March. The Prime Minister‚’s speech on 23 March, where he confirmed that ‚’each and every one of us is now obliged to join together‚’ against ‚’the biggest threat this country has faced for decades‚’ highlights an attempt to inspire national unity in the fight against the virus.
This messaging supported high levels of compliance with 97% of respondents in the UCL Covid-19 Social Study confirming good compliance with the rules from March to May. Additionally, research by Legal & General showed that 19% of UK adults have volunteered their time for community activity since the first lockdown. Dr Daisy Fancourt who leads the UCL Study confirms public buy in with the narrative of collective national responsibility as a crucial determiner of compliance during this period. This suggests that a precise communication of climate change as a threat to the UK, namely to cities, regions and communities will be more effective in driving the necessary behavioural changes than presenting the climate challenge abstractly as a threat to the planet.
The context of EU exit may strengthen the effectiveness of this approach, greater awareness and celebration of national capabilities through independence can feed into a coherent framing of climate change as a distinctively national threat, presenting an opportunity for the UK and its citizens to step up and be the global leader.