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

Fabian Society
Related publications

Talking Green in Hungary

Communicating and understanding environmental policies and Just Transition

Talking Green in Europe

Lessons on re-framing the public debate on the climate crisis
Find all related publications

Expected labour market effects of the Green Deal Industrial Plan

The potential of labour policy for Just Transition regions

Progressive Yearbook 2024

Looking back to look ahead

Beyond humanitarian aid: the EU’s approach to alleviating food crisis in the Sahel at a time of global insecurity

'12 years of crises in the Sahel' series
Find all related Progressive Post
Progressive Post

European agriculture: it’s about farmers’ income, stupid!


A just transition in crisis mode


The bottleneck of the Green Deal

Find all related events
Bratislava, Slovakia

Social and environmental justice in the EU

Who will pay for it?
Pécs, Hungary

Taxing the richest in the EU

For a Just, social and green transition in Hungary
Sofia, Bulgaria

The cost of personal transition

Forum for Progressive left solutions
Find all related news

Spanish Minister Teresa Ribera awarded FEPS ‘Progressive Person of the Year’


A new social contract for the well-being of people and the planet

Call to action on Just Transition

New study on how and why social issues have increased in prominence during the EP negotiations

Progress towards inclusive economic transition but need for further improvements in terminology and framing of vulnerable groups

New manifesto giving international impetus to Lula da Silva’s environmental policy

FEPS President, among the 50 scientists and former politicians from Brazil and Portugal who signed the manifesto
Find all related in the media
In the media

Ласло Андор: Европа трябва да създаде нов модел за икономически растеж

by 14/03/2024
'Europe must create a new model for economic growth'. Interview by Laszlo Andor, FEPS Secretary General

Цената на прехода – зелен, дигитален и демографски

by BNT 13/03/2024
'The cost of transition - green, digital and demographic' BNT Interview with László Andor about the three major transformations the world is facing.

Teresa Ribera, premiada por su labor en política internacional

by El Plural 26/01/2024
Teresa Ribera has been recognized by FEPS with the 'Progressive Person of the Year' award during the launch of the 'Progressive Yearbook.' Article by El Plural

Teresa Ribera, premio ‘Progressive person of the year’ por su labor en política internacional

by Europa Press 26/01/2024
Teresa Ribera has been recognized by FEPS with the 'Progressive Person of the Year' award during the launch of the 'Progressive Yearbook.' Article by Europa Press