The role of digital channels for climate change engagement
WRITTEN BY Local Partnerships
POSTED ON 25th February 2021
How can local government best utilise digital channels to communicate with residents about the climate crisis? Recent work carried out by Local Partnerships explored how social media interaction can actively engage communities to encourage individual and collective sustainable behaviours. In a recent example carried out in partnership with a local authority, in order to record and understand existing behaviour changes made by residents following COVID-19 restrictions, social media activity led residents to complete a survey focused on climate positive behaviour changes as a result of the pandemic.
New and existing social media tools, such as Instagram Stories and sponsored content on Facebook, found that new tactics and channels increased survey responses and reach of messages amongst hard-to-reach audiences, in turn increasing awareness of the council’s activity in relation to climate response.
The survey results showed that overall, during the pandemic, more people indicated they had started a behaviour, rather than stopped. Of the behaviours that will have a positive influence on climate change, the key now is maintenance. Further engagement from local authorities with residents could have a significant impact on making that happen, with certain behaviours becoming the social norm. Our work has shown that social media can be an effective tool for wider public engagement.
The survey identified areas that show potential focus for messages to residents going forward, by utilising residents’ existing behaviour change to achieve ongoing sustainable behaviour. For example, residents can be encouraged to improve home energy efficiency when spending more time at home, with messages focusing on saving money and available grant support. It also identified that to realise the benefits of remote working for residents, the local authority should continue to address digital inclusion and digital infrastructure delivery. Other examples include developing further active travel behaviour change by increasing convenience, such as providing accurate and accessible information about journey times on foot or by bicycle. We will publish the outputs of our pilot in the spring.