Motivational climate conversations

As we begin to win the argument for the truth, surveys show that in many countries, including the UK, majorities see climate change as a threat. But there can seem to be a lack of urgency in the public response.

In his latest book The New Climate War, Michael E Mann says we are fighting a war against the forces of inaction. How can we take up this challenge without alienating the people we speak to? Maybe you want to inspire others into action? Or just help them understand why we do what we do?

Motivational interviewing is used by the health and social care sectors as a non-aggressive way of inspiring change. It uses a guiding style to engage people and evoke their own motivations for change. It’s used in the treatment of addictions. Arguably we are all (more or less) addicted to ‘Business as usual’. So perhaps we can borrow from this technique to influence our conversations on the climate and ecological emergency and support us as we try to change the world.

Our main meeting on Thursday 18th March 7-9pm will include a workshop on these ideas, but here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • how we speak to people is likely to be just as important as what we say
  • we each hold our own answers to our own route to change. What works for you may not work for me.
  • being listened to and understood is an important part of the process of change
  • people only change their behaviour when they feel ready – not when they are told to do so

In conversation:

  • we can recognise cues in what someone says that indicate they may be open to the possibility of change
  • we can also notice when they are explaining their barriers and respond in an encouraging, rather than critical way

We should avoid:

  • arguing
  • using an authoritative/expert stance that leaves the other person in a passive role


  • the solutions people find for themselves are the most enduring and effective