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Attack, Engage or Ignore? The role of ‘the enemy’ in climate narratives

Attack, Engage or Ignore? Understanding the role of ‘the enemy’ in climate narrative strategies

Enemies (or ‘opponents’) are ubiquitous in campaign narratives on climate, energy and nature. But who is the enemy we can all rally against when it comes to climate change? Should we even be thinking in these terms at all?

As the climate movement grows and diversifies, and the contours of the green transition come ever-more clearly into view, there is no simple answer to these questions. But the choices we make about if (and how) to assign blame and responsibility in climate narratives play a powerful role in shaping how audiences understand what the nature of the climate crisis is, and the viability of different solutions for addressing it.

Should campaigns prioritise seeking consensus, knowing how destructive polarised debates and culture-war tactics can be? Or ought we be less timid in calling out the culprits of the climate crisis – naming and shaming the enemy rather than shying away from necessary confrontation? Attack, Engage or Ignore is a conundrum shared across the climate movement.

This session will explore – through the insights and experiences of a set of speakers with diverse insights and strategic perspectives on the topic – a range of ways in which ‘enemies’ and opponents feature in climate narrative strategies

The purpose of the session is not to attempt to reach a consensus on which of these approaches is the ‘best’, but to learn from and reflect on the plurality of approaches to this key strategic question, as viewed from a variety of perspectives.


Dr Amiera Sawas

Chief Research & Engagement Officer – Climate Outreach

Amiera Sawas is responsible for overseeing the programmatic and research implementation of Climate Outreach’s strategy. Amiera has diverse experience in climate, environment and development research and programming work, across the private, non-governmental and academic sectors, and is passionate about the potential of bringing diverse stakeholders together to combat climate change and set an inclusive vision for our collective future.

Funmibi Ogunlesi

Interim Head of Messaging – NEON

Funmibi Ogunlesi supports campaigners, activist groups and organisations to communicate their issues with effective frames and powerful messages. She was part of the Framing Climate Justice project and was one of the writers of the Climate Justice guide. She has since written guides for COP and on Loss and Damage.

Phillippa Simmonds

Countryside & Community Research Institute

Philippa Simmonds is an interdisciplinary social scientist based at the University of Gloucestershire. Her PhD research explores how the UK livestock sector is responding to public debates about cows, sheep, and climate change. She has also worked with participatory and deliberative methods to understand rural place-based solutions to the climate crisis, and undertaken research with the Welsh Government analysing policies that could support a just transition to Net Zero.

Alex Evans

Founder/Executive Director – Larger Us

Larger Us explores ways of driving change in the world that bridge political divides rather than deepening them, in particular through applying psychology to politics and change-making. Alex is the author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough (Penguin, 2017), which focuses on the power of collective stories to unlock political change. Until March 2018, Alex was a campaign director at Avaaz, the global citizens’ movement, where he led campaigns on areas like Brexit, tax havens, and human rights.

Session curator: Adam Corner (Climate Barometer)

The event is online and admission is free.

See inter-narratives website for contact details.

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