Talking Green UK

Winning the argument for climate action

Policy Study


The Talking Green UK policy studies investigate how progressives can improve the way they communicate with the public on climate change. To do this, the FEPS and the Fabian Society developed a survey in consultation with an academic advisory group and a range of experts and stakeholders. The survey was carried out by YouGov in October 2021 and polled 5005 people across the UK.

Policy Study | Talking Green: The UK Survey – Winning the Argument for Climate Action

This Policy Study investigates respondents’ perceptions of how relevant climate change is compared to other policy issues. It also analyses opinions on particular policy measures and people’s reactions towards different frames and narratives.

The study finds that although the public is concerned about climate change and want action, other policy areas such as the economy, health or Brexit are prioritised. Furthermore, environmental concerns vary with age, education, political alignment, and social class.

While there is a general optimism on the benefits of climate action for job creation, equally cleavages among social groups can be observed. Moreover, there is still considerable confusion over the impact of climate action on jobs and the terminology used (i.e. green jobs, net zero).

With regards to communication employed by progressives to reframe the debate on climate action, the study concludes that:

Economic messages such as a focus on green jobs mostly preach to the converted and fail to persuade groups who need persuading most.
– Messages emphasising the quality of life and care for nature had broader appeal across the whole sample.
– Messages about specific jobs (e.g. in construction, plumbing) resonate more with people than abstract slogans.

Policy Brief | Talking Green UK: Public reactions to key climate change terms

Politicians, the media and activists must improve the way they talk about climate change. There is general support for the government to take action on climate change and people do see the opportunity to create jobs – though this view isn’t overwhelming and opinions do vary between demographic and political groups.

In this briefing, we conclude that politicians, the media and activists should start to:

– Refer to ‘net zero’ using clearer, more commonly understood words and, where there is no alternative but to use this term, elaborate on what it means.
– Talk about specific jobs and their quality, rather than leading on the fact that they are ‘green’ – as this seems to provoke scepticism and has far more of an association with the climate agenda than regeneration. This defeats the purpose of making the economic case.
Resist the urge to ramp up the rhetoric by referring to the ‘green industrial revolution’, or large numbers of jobs, which provokes a significant negative and sceptical response from the public.

About the Talking Green research project

‘Talking Green’ is a research project that explores perceptions of climate actions across Europe, through surveys in:

It develops an understanding of how the green transition is perceived especially by low- and middle-income people.

The collected data allow progressives to find the most effective ways to talk about climate change and develop participatory and effective policy proposals that address climate change while delivering a just transition that is aligned with people’s concerns.

This project is run by FEPS, in partnership with the Fabian Society, TASC, the Szociális Demokráciáért Intézet and the Progressive Hungary Foundation.


In the media

What climate campaigners are getting wrong – and how to fix it, by Luke Raikes | The Independent, 16.02.22
– ‘Green revolution’ rhetoric undermining support for climate action, report warns, by Harry Cockburn | The Independent, 16.02.22


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