Communicating Carbon Removal: Grassroots Movement

YouTube: Communicating Carbon Removal: Building a Grassroots Movement to Inform & Mobilize.

November 27 2022 {what mission?}

Executive Summary
As individuals we possess enormous power to influence attitudes and perspectives on carbon removal through our everyday communications - both in the context of casual interactions and through more formal channels and venues. Together, in supportive networks that enable knowledge sharing and collective learning, this impact potential can be greatly amplified.

In this webinar OpenAir advocate Toby Bryce will moderate a discussion with climate communications expert Dr. Anne Pasek, Canada Research Chair in Media, Culture and the Environment Assistant Professor at Trent University. Toby and Dr. Pasek will be joined by a panel of citizen CDR activists who are each engaged in grassroots communications and awareness-raising activities in their communities. The panel members will share their experiences and discuss best practices for communicating the necessity, value and meaning of CDR for different audiences. The session will include information on how viewers can join and participate in grassroots CDR communications campaigns through the OpenAir Collective.


Toby Bryce based in Brooklyn New York with OpenAir (join us!) , speaking from the virtual Pavilion at Carbon removals at COP27 to discuss CDR grassroots movement - people advocating purposeful carbon dioxide removal (CDR) from the atmosphere and durable storage. See "The CDR Primer, a great resource. CDR is not equal to carbon capture and storage (CCS) - a form of reducing emissions, not carbon removal. These are two different essential things to meet our climate goals of limiting warming to 1.5 or even 2 degrees Celsius because there are hard-to-avoid emissions that we can’t eliminate soon enough. Carbon removal will be necessary at Gigaton scale by mid-century that’s billions of tons per year and we’re currently at kiloton scale.
Tina Baumgartner tells us about today’s program. CDR is poorly understood. Today we discuss building a global movement to educate about CDR. Recruiting many people to have meaningful dialogues is the best way. Introduces Anne, an assistant professor and Canada Research chairperson in Media Culture and the Environment at Trent University:
Today I’ll summarize some climate communication research - patterns that are specific to the United States and Canada, but somewhat universal.

  1. Party affiliation is the biggest predictor of whether or not someone supports climate action, because party members have shared values on questions like mitigation or adaptation, but also parties have used climate as a wedge issue with disinformation campaigns that have made climate a really contentious issue.
  2. Key regional differences in climate belief correlate with party affiliations to a degree but also obvious patterns in and around fossil fuel producing regions - there are real regional economic concerns and worries about judgments from people who live and work elsewhere. They’ll double down in their support for fossil fuel Industries and report feeling surrounded.

How do we break the divide to build political power for climate action? we need to both reach new Advocates and demobilize opposition
Two major themes in communication research that are really clever.

  1. Empathy is really important, strategically. Effective communicators can reach previously disengaged or hostile audiences by connecting with them through shared values - not letting the science stand in center but instead focusing on how climate action aligns with already existing ethics and practices. These are really specific - there’s usually a whole language built up that makes immediate sense to people in these communities but maybe not intuitive to people outside. We need folks inside these many different groups: religions, professions, hobbies and other identities working to translate that science into language and concerns that are authentic to that group.
  2. Good communication also involves the idea of deep canvassing where members of a particular group have extended conversations with people that aren’t like them in the hopes of connecting with them and connecting them to an issue that now has a human face and story. Climate change psychologists have found that most people who are concerned about climate change don’t talk about it or take action, even if they privately believe in it. This is because the implications of climate change are frightening and can make individuals feel powerless. However, providing people with credible steps to take can help alleviate this anxiety. Many calls to action in environmental movements focus on personal behavioral changes, but these are often insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Instead, researchers and activists are moving towards bringing people into social movements that provide the opportunity to influence their surroundings, form social ties, and pursue meaningful challenges. This can help sustain engagement and make people feel good.

Climate change researchers have found that many people in rural areas have concerns about the impacts of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies on their local land, economies, and governance systems. This disconnect is partly due to a lack of CDR communicators, a lack of deliberative spaces for public engagement, and the state of media systems today. To address these issues, there is a need to build more opportunities for engagement and dialogue around CDR technologies, as well as to organize groups to advocate for their desired futures. This is a crucial moment for this work and there is potential to make progress much more quickly than is currently possible for climate advocacy in general.
One of the biggest challenges for carbon removal communications and advocacy is the lack of central organizations engaging in this work. This makes it difficult to coordinate efforts and get messages out effectively. Efforts to build a grassroots movement and centralize messaging, such as the carbon removal virtual Pavilion at COP27, can help address this challenge.
Word choice, framing, and metaphors are important in carbon removal communications because they can shift public opinion and reception. However, there is no universal formula for effective communication, so it is important for communicators to consider the context and experiment to find what works. When engaging with people who disagree on carbon removal, it can be helpful to begin by finding common ground and emphasizing the need for emissions reductions. Showing empathy and engaging in dialogue can also help facilitate a productive conversation.
Important next steps for organizations like OpenAir working on carbon removal messaging and communications include building a movement, engaging underrepresented constituencies, and finding strategic spaces to do outreach. It is important to focus both inward on building membership and resources, and outward on outreach and engagement. These efforts can help advance the movement and make progress on carbon removal.
Peter Hoberg, an engineer in Santa Rosa, California, began sharing information about carbon dioxide removal (CDR) within his network after attending a messaging workshop hosted by Open Air, a climate advocacy group. Hoberg focused on building awareness and starting a dialogue about CDR within his local Rotary club. He plans to continue doing presentations and potentially support CDR-related projects.
Jay Angar, a project manager advocats for carbon removal policies and technologies in Texas. It can be challenging to get people on board with new ideas, especially when it comes to climate policy. One of the key things is to focus on the benefits of carbon removal and how it can help to address the climate crisis. By highlighting the potential for carbon removal to not only reduce emissions, but also to reverse some of the damage that has already been done, we can help to engage people and get them interested in the idea. It’s also important to emphasize the fact that carbon removal technologies are scalable, economically viable, and can be implemented without causing negative side effects. By focusing on these points, we can help to build support for carbon removal policies and technologies in Texas and beyond.
Jay discusses efforts to promote a bill related to climate change and the use of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) as an economic driver. He started monthly meetings with their chapter of a foundation for climate registration in Texas and have reached out to the office of a representative from their district. The representative’s staff was receptive to the ideas and the speaker plans to continue engaging with the representative and promoting the bill. They also plan to invite more people to join their chapter and create compelling messages to share with representatives in order to gain support for the bill.
Janine Kong discusses their involvement with the OpenAir Collective and their work on promoting carbon dioxide removal (CDR) as a solution to climate change. She recently became interested in the topic and helped launch a video series called “Know this” that explains different aspects of CDR in simple language. The videos are available on YouTube and Instagram, and the speaker hopes to reach people who care about climate issues but may not feel like they can make a difference. The goal is to inspire interest and action on the topic of CDR.
The speakers discuss their personal experiences and motivations for working on climate change issues, specifically focusing on carbon dioxide removal (CDR). One speaker experienced the devastating impact of a wildfire on their community and wants to take action to prevent similar disasters in the future. Another speaker is concerned about the potential for sea level rise and the resulting humanitarian crisis in their home country of India. A third speaker believes that addressing climate change is the most urgent issue facing the world and is necessary to address other major problems like poverty and access to education. They all agree that CDR is an important part of addressing climate change and are motivated to spend time promoting it.
Public participation is needed to address climate change and promote carbon dioxide removal (CDR) as a solution. It is important to have, and give hope that CDR will enable human flourishing in the future. The speaker also provides information about the OpenAir Collective and their online platform Discord, as well as their upcoming event series called “This is CDR” featuring a guest speaker from the Department of Energy. The speaker encourages audience members to join the group and participate in their efforts to promote CDR.

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Great summary Cade. Thank you.