About the book
The book is call for better speeches about climate in order to get more people onboard and thus excert more political pressure for climate action. It brings the classical rhetoric up to the modern age by integrating neurolinguistics, framing, behavioural science, and social movement theory with (so far unknown and classical) historical speeches and personal anecdotes.
The book is divided into nine fails of climate communication and thus nine pieces of advice to how you can mobilise for climate through speeches. It draws parallels between the abolitionists and the civil rights movement againstracism to highlight what they did right and what the climate movement can learn.
I start out in the introduction talking about my own experiences in political speechwriting on climate. And what has led me to my lessons in the book. Each chapter is then structud like my recommendations: first concise human language, then emotion and storytelling, and at last, logic and science.
1) Stand by your emotions
Too many climate speeches are recitations of facts a devoid on emotions because we have been (erroniously) taught the enlightenment ideal that arguments should be objective. Yet decisions are without direction if there are no emotions and the severity of any number is best illustrated by emotions.
2) Be true to your world view
Too many climate speeches are full of words that do not show the severity of the situation we are in. Climate activists are still using words that work against their messages and beliefs, like 'climate change' selected by US president George W. Bush as the word most fit to use when you want to do nothing.
3) Find inspiration in the past
Too many climate speeches are making the crisis seem unique, - and thereby impossible to solve. This is the case for Greta Thunberg and Bill McKibben. Every historical moment is unique but still we can learn from the past and draw on the traditions that have gotten us this far.
4) Build a golden bridge
Too many climate speeches are actually making it HARDER to change your mind instead of making it easy. By finding common ground and making conversion seem attractive we can change minds and move people to action.
5) Tell us about your path
Too many climate speakers sound like preachers that have always been on teh right path. Yet nothing can save a sinner like a saved sinner and therefore we must speak openly about the path that has led us to where we are and about teh doubts that we have had on the way.
6) Commit to change
Too many climate speeches are full of facts and arguments but utterly lack what will bring peopel to act differently in a consistent manner. Like new years resolutions commitment works best in a social community or collective. That is exactly what a speech audience can be - but we must use that to our advantage.
7) The One Ring
Too many climate speeches want you to know everything there is to know .- and so we forget everything. They should focus on the one thing the audience needs to remember and forge a ring around it with supporting metaphors, chorus, props, emotions and stories.
8) Sound like a leader
Too many climate speeches know the ins and outs of climate science yet know nothing about the 200 years of rhetorical science on speechwriting. Here I draw on the language of leadership from Simon Lancaster, Aristotle, Socrates and all the old greeks and romans.
9) Make your message sharable
Too many speeches are prepared, given and forgotten. They are analog speeeches in a digital world and they need to be thought os in terms of social media and expanding their reach to the networks of the audience.
I end the book on a note about the history of climate communication streching back to the early middle ages and the climate change during the Scandinavian Fimbull Winther of 532 - preceeding the Viking expansion. I build the story from the Eart Summit in Rio 1992 with Severn Suzuki through Gro Harlem Brundtland and Al Gore to present day. And I seek out a view for the future drawing on regenerative leadership and the long held traditions of animism in literature.
About the author
I am a social anthropologist specialised in social movement theory and the study of mobilisation.
I have worked as speechwriter for mayors and government ministers in the area of climate and environement.
I have written and taught extensively on the topic a at conferences and universities in Danmark and internationally - and volunteered for the danish climaet movement and well as TEDxCopenhagen.
My speeches have won the international Cicero Speechwriting Awards two times and six have been featured on the front of the journal the Vital Speeches International.
Today I am the Climate Action Communication Coordinator for the UN Environment Programme.