How words can change climate efforts

12 November 2019

Three bachelor students from BI Norwegian Business School are the masterminds behind a new organization called Recycle CO2 that is getting international recognition for its efforts to reframe the wording of carbon capture and storage to a more positive environmental measure to curb CO2 emissions.

Their slogan “reduce, reuse, return” underpins Recycle CO2’s desire to reach the public with a concept people can positively relate to and communicate carbon capture and storage in a more understandable way for people who do not have an academic background. 

“In general, climate issues are often negatively framed, and we believe that in order to engage people, it must be positively charged, using positive words, which in turn engages people. By using positive words, we believe more people might want to learn more," says Nicholas Boyd, one of the founders of the organization Recycle CO2.

Recycle CO2

Together with his co-founders and fellow students Rebekka Hushovd and Pia Larsen, who all attend the final year in their bachelor’s program in communication management, they strive to increase the awareness of CCS to become a reality in the near future.

“We want to engage the common crowd. We do not necessarily want to remove the research language, but to create a language that embraces more people,” says Rebekka Hushovd.

Engaging the industry

The new-established organization is a result of a cooperation between the students and Torund Bryhn, the Managing Director of Thought Laboratories, who explains that a reframing can contribute to more collaboration across industries and eventually speed up the adaption process of the technology.

Torund Bryhn

In order to address company engagement, Recycle CO2 was a part of facilitating “The Art of Framing Sustainability”, a seminar hosted by BI’s Center for Corporate Communication where leading companies and organizations that integrate sustainability and climate action into their business strategy display what communication strategies that are effective for gaining support for sustainability and climate change.

“Companies need to carry their share of the weight and contribute in order for us to reach our common climate goals,” says Pia Larsen.

The common denominator for the seminar was that words have the power to move people and organizations from awareness to advocacy. Likewise, words that are over- or misused will turn into buzzwords and deviate from the original intention.

From climate sceptic to climate advocate

One of the key speakers at the seminar, Frank Luntz, who is one of the most honored communication professionals in America today, talked about how to remove the ''buzzword'' stigma from sustainability.

Frank Luntz

“We have a genuine problem that seems to be getting worse, and Norway is a global leader on climate change, so I think it can become the global leader on carbon capture,” says Luntz.

Luntz played a significant role in changing the power balance in the US elections with words.  During President George W. Bush’s first term, and his infamous memo warned Republican party leaders that they were losing “the environmental communications battle”.

He came up with the words “Climate change” with the purpose to discourage the public to support climate initiatives by advising them to emphasize a lack of scientific certainty around climate change and drop the concept of “global warming”.

He is positive to the Recycle CO2’s effort and want to empower them to tackle this issue in ways that are credible for students.

“I want them to be the advocates, the foot soldiers for the movement, and I hope to give them language and messaging that will help them achieve that,” says Luntz, who now wants to dedicate his time to help organizations within climate action to help persuade climate deniers to change.

“I want to help people promote climate impact and carbon capture to be more effective with their communication and more effective with promoting the policies, “he says.

You can also see all news here.