How to get sceptical centre-right voters to care about climate change

Whilst it is well known that those who vote Conservative are more likely to be sceptical about climate change, signals from the current government are worrying – despite David Cameron’s promise to lead the ‘greenest government ever’. Windfarm opposition, dash-for-gas strategy, opposition for a target for carbon-less energy by 2030… the Conservative party is failing to indicate any interest in the previous cross-party consensus that climate change is a ‘thing’, and a problematic one.

Regardless of political affiliation, politicians and those who communicate their agendas to the public must find ideas and messages that engage with the centre-right public’s interest if they are to override the messages being circulated by sceptic groups (the Global Warming Policy Foundation, for instance). In fact, there is no reason that concern over climate change can’t or shouldn’t coexist with centre-right ideologies – there’s simply no one saying so.

The Climate Outreach and Information Network (Coin) is attempting to rectify that, beginning with their new report on how to engage conservatives in serious national conversation about climate change.  Using the input of experts, they examined key barriers and opportunities for fostering such a conversation, and then reviewed the existing research evidence to summarise key issues in a way that could engage the centre-right.

The main narratives revolve around:

  • ‘localism’ (stewardship and shared responsibility to the country and countryside);
  • energy security (decarbonisation as a cautious, sensible strategy to help avert needless risk);
  • ‘new environmentalism’ (climate change as ‘too important’ to be left to those of other political leanings, e.g. hippies, and a call to the centre-right for leadership on the issue);
  • and the ‘good life’ (climate change as a health threat).