A report published last week suggests that the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) should adopt new strategies for communicating with the public, including telling human stories to illustrate the impacts of climate change.
There are probably not many who would disagree that we need new ways of communicating about climate change. And story-telling might be an opportunity to engage the public. But surely this is not the role of the IPCC? Its reports are designed to objectively review scientific evidence for policy-makers, not to persuade the general public that climate change is an important issue.
This is not to suggest that the IPCC is perfect, and perhaps it should seriously consider some of the suggestions made in this new report, for example to move from infrequent (about every 6/7 year) assessments to more timely updates.
In a report released yesterday by the Climate Outreach & Information Network, we argue that although the IPCC is succeeding in its aim of presenting facts about climate change to policy makers, this role reflects an outdated model of how science is incorporated into society, and how social change occurs. Catalysing a proportionate political and public response to climate change means rethinking how climate change is communicated: from science to human stories. Based on interviews with 16 leading climate change communicators from the media and NGOs in the UK, the report makes a seven recommendations for transforming the role of the IPCC.