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Countdown to COP21: How Can Companies Most Wisely Communicate About Climate Change?

Image credit: Pablo Solón

Paris is getting ready to host the United Nations international conference on Climate Change (COP21). For businesses, COP21 seems a good opportunity to communicate to their stakeholders. But what to say and to whom? And what are the risks of communicating on climate change during this fraught period of time?

Inform and engage employees

The intensive media coverage and momentum related to COP21 represents an opportunity to strengthen internal communication and increase awareness. This means explaining how business activities can impact climate and the potential effects of climate change on businesses, the actions to reduce GHG emissions, not to mention the difficulties encountered.

Every internal communication tool can be exploited. In-house events are a good opportunity to enable direct exchanges between employees and experts and to propose concrete experiments to encourage behavior changes.

However, there are two aspects to be watchful of that must be integrated into your communication strategy: the risk of information overload of your employees to climate issues and the risk of failure of international negotiations.

Convince customers

Does your offer allow your customers to significantly reduce their emissions or become more resilient to climate-related hazards? If so, then COP21 is an excellent opportunity to let them know about it!

It is essential to rely on your sales teams. But what are their perceptions of climate issues? Are they able to answer customer questions on the added value of your products and services? This may require an information and training program.

Furthermore, your various external communication tools must be consistent and complementary to each other, to meet the expectations and requirements of your various stakeholders while avoiding greenwashing.

Take the stakes and act

But perhaps you feel this is a distant problem and your business is not really affected by climate change? Think again. Regions all over the world are (and will be) impacted, therefore every actor should be mobilized: governments, and small and large businesses, as well as citizens.

Employees, partners, customers, neighbours ... All your stakeholders might reasonably question your company’s contribution to the collective fight against climate change.

Above all, the actions implemented within this framework have interesting co-benefits: savings, market differentiation, employee motivation ... COP21 is therefore a good opportunity to define a strategy, to mobilize the forces and implement the first practical actions.


Mathieu Jahnich is a strategic communications and marketing consultant based in Paris, France.

After earning a PhD in science and environmental communication, he spent ten years within various research institutes and the French ministry of ecology, first as a researcher then as… [Read more about Mathieu Jahnich]


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