The seven climate segments

Two years ago last month, Defra released their report on the UK population’s attitudes and responses to climate change. It’s a detailed analysis that separates the country into seven different groups, defined by what they think about climate change, and what they’d be likely to do about it.

It’s exactly the kind of tool that climate campaigners need, to understand better how different people feel about climate change and low-carbon behaviours. Yet it doesn’t seem to have made tidal waves beyond government circles.

This is a shame. I really like the Framework for pro-environment behaviours (despite the awkward name).  It seems to me to be a robust and insightful way of thinking about the UK population and providing evidence for targeting different groups to try to reduce UK carbon emissions. The segments that Defra have identified feel intuitively right (always important if a segmentation is going to be usable) and a good basis for digging into questions about behaviour change.

To give just a short extract from the report, the following image shows how the seven segments sit on the axes of willingness to act, and ability to act:

But for all the excellent research and analysis, there’s one big problem, which may (at least partly) explain why its impact has been fairly limited outside the government.

The full report is 109 pages long. Even the Executive Summary is 10 pages long, and throughout the document there’s an awful lot of text. This might sound a superficial complaint, but I think it’s a real flaw. Even for a geek like me who spends his weekends reading about public attitudes towards climate change, it’s been a slog getting through it.

Presumably the report was written by civil servants for people in other parts of government, think tanks, and other policy organisations. It’s had a fair degree of circulation: lots of citations from UK government groups, academics, a few NGO policy groups, and a number of international bodies (though I haven’t yet seen evidence of its actually being used outside the UK government).

But whether or not the report is accessible for those professional policy audiences, its size must be a problem for many people who are trying to build climate-based campaigns and would benefit from the insights of the report.

What we really need is someone to summarise the report into, say, a presentation of about 11 slides (1 slide exec summary, 1 slide methodological overview, 1 slide giving overview of all segments, 7 x 1 slide for each segment, 1 slide conclusions and recommendations).

Anyone got a spare day?


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