What is your personal impact on the planet? Or that of your company? Any idea? Probably not. Whilst we are surrounded by messaging on climate change and stories of human-induced climate catastrophe in the form of news pieces, telly programmes and films, and awareness days on and off line, I’m going to take a punt that very few of us understand it.

I’m a bit of an eco-warrior, and I care about my impact on the planet. I feel somewhat informed, and feel I make informed choices, but I’m no expert. What about those with no interest and no clue? They are so unlikely to make even the smallest of changes, and if we need to change our behaviour (which we do), we need to understand what we are being asked to do, and why. I really suspect a lot of the asks go straight over most of our heads.

So how do we reach those that are uninterested and uninformed? As with most things we need to not exclude people or put people off by using language and terms that aren’t understood. We need to keep it simple. According to the recently published PRCA (The Public Relations and Communications Association) Accessible Communications Guidelines “In the UK, as many as 7 million people have ‘very poor literacy skills’. To ensure the broadest accessibility across the cognitive spectrum, simplicity is paramount.”

And, I say this A LOT to clients – there are always new entrants to a market, there are always people who won’t know what you do/why they need you or why they might need you. It’s important not to exclude them. In this case, there will always be people newly interested in environmental issues and they need to welcomed with open arms, not put off by acronyms and terms they don’t understand.

Which brings me on to COP26 – what exactly is it? Well, the COP bit stands for Conference of the Parties (yes really) and the 26 bit is the 26th time they’ve met. In reality it’s the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, to be held in Glasgow 1-12 November 2021 under the presidency of the United Kingdom.

You will hear/read a lot about it in the run up. You have until November to get up to speed! Start now. Useful links at the bottom. Warning – it can be rather depressing.

We don’t walk around with a C02 calculator coming out of the back of our heads like a cartoon speech bubble so we do need educating about our impact. There is a lot of good work being done out there, and ways we can all make a difference – understanding how we can all do more, by actually having a grasp of the issues is key.

If you are a small business and want or need to communicate your credentials on climate change then make sure you use language that means something to your target audience and don’t fall foul of greenwashing. Remember – a ton of people won’t have a clue what you are on about it – but that’s not a reason to bamboozle them with balderdash.

Some useful climate change resources

Jon Richardson and the Futurenauts – How To Survive The Future Podcast – entertaining and enlightening

United Nations Climate Change Race to Zero Campaign

The People Vs Climate Change BBC documentary

Clean Air Day – some great resources for tackling air pollution

The Conversation on Net Zero and greenwashing

The Guardian on carbon offsets