protester holding a sign overhead that says 'fight today for a better tomorrow'

Is climate fatalism the enemy of sustainable progress?

Is it all doom and gloom? At 2023’s Innovation Zero Congress, the cloud surrounding the climate emergency seemed to lift, with optimism coming from all sectors to tackle challenges and seize opportunities for sustainable development.

“I have a bigger fear of fatalism than climate change,” says Elena Doms, Head of +Earth+

Addressing arguably the biggest green comms challenge, climate fatalism was the hot topic for the panel ‘Communicating the Urgency of the Challenge’ chaired by David Shukman, former BBC Science Editor. So, let’s break down what climate fatalism is, how it’s affecting sustainable progress and the steps to communicating challenges effectively.

What is climate fatalism?

Climate fatalism is the mindset that we won’t solve the climate emergency. Coming from two schools of thought, the fatalist mindset often incorporates the belief that:

  1. Climate change is an inevitable process and humans are powerless to stop it; and/or
  2. Even with the technology to combat the climate crisis, we simply won’t take the action necessary to solve it

After decades of reports announcing the dire straits of our environmental crisis, and final warnings for action, fear is growing that our planetary impact is a lost cause, according to the Innovation Zero panel.

While not entirely unfounded, climate fatalism can be damaging on an individual level to mental health, as well as a on societal level triggering mass inaction and climate denial.

Avoiding apocalypse fatigue

Focus on advancing progress. The solutions are here now, we simply need to see and hear about them.

Getting active helps – here at Content Coms we are ready to help you communicate your sustainability journey, whether you are just starting out or celebrating your progress, our industry expertise can help you find the right strategy.

Climate communicators have a history of delivering messages with an army of facts, charts, and data with the goal of driving home the urgency for action. Innovation Zero’s panel on communications discussed the inefficiencies of this; anyone convinced by the science will have absorbed the countless reports of data measurements and natural disasters.

As Solitaire Townsend, Chief Solutionist & Co-Founder of Futerra, put it: “Climate change is now communicating itself. Climate change has a bigger marketing budget than any of us.”

Flipping the narrative

The major takeaway from the summit was to grab people’s hearts – then their heads. To reach the rest of the world, we need narratives that tug on heartstrings and spur real action.

We have the solutions; we just need to get people to believe in them.

The panels message resonated with us here Content Coms, as we know the importance of delivering the soul of our client’s message to those ‘in the know’, as well as new audiences. We build trust and credibility with our client’s stakeholders through authentic and transparent communications. Our Anti-Greenwash Playbook is the perfect downloadable guide to discover our core values, and how we can deliver on your green goals.

In the face of climate change, time is now our most precious resource. Check out our ‘What We Do’ page to see how we at Content Coms can be the solution to your green communications.

Sian Clay
Sian Clay
Sian Clay is on our client management team, specialising in ESG communications. She holds an MSc from the University of Bristol in Management in CSR and Sustainability.