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date: 23 April 2017

Communicating Climate Change Across Workplace and Organizational Settings

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science. Please check back later for the full article.

Addressing climate change requires attention to a variety of communication contexts. While attention has been paid to top-down approaches aimed at individual-level behaviors and beliefs of the public at large, the commercial sector, made up of organizations, is increasingly recognized as an integral player in solving the climate change challenges we face today. For instance, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) places the commercial sector as having the highest potential to reduce emissions by 2020, suggesting that meaningful actions aimed at climate change mitigation must come from within organizations. However, the diverse nature of organizational communication poses challenges toward effective climate change communication. On the one hand, climate change communication can occur within organizations, where members’ individual behaviors and beliefs can have significant impact on their organization’s energy consumption. On the other hand, organizations can communicate environmental issues directly to stakeholders and the public at large—though communication can be complicated by the fact that some organizations benefit from instilling doubt in the science of climate change. This dual nature of organizational-based climate change communication allows members of the commercial sector to play an important role in cultivating divergent views of climate change. Future research can help promulgate climate change-related awareness and action within organizational contexts.