Communicating climate change - Learning from business: Challenging values, changing economic thinking, innovating the low carbon economy

Katharina Kaesehage*, Michael Leyshon, Chris Caseldine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The risks and opportunities presented by climate change for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) have been largely overlooked by previous research. The subsequent lack of knowledge in this field makes it difficult for SMEs to engage with climate change in a meaningful, profitable, and sustainable way. Further, current research cannot explain why SMEs rarely engage with climate change. We examine critically 30 SMEs, which engage with climate change knowledges and 5 Innovation-Support-Organizations (ISOs) that communicate climate change knowledges. Over a three-year period we explore why and how these businesses approach the knowledge gap between climate change science and business practice, drawing on a variety of ethnographic research methods: (1) in-depth semi-structured and open interviews; (2) participant observations; and (3) practitioners' workshops. The results demonstrate that business' mitigation and adaptation strategies are lay-knowledge-dependent, derived from personal values, space, and place identity. To enhance the number of SMEs engaging with climate change, maximize the potential value of climate change for the economy and establish a low carbon economy, climate change communication needs to target personal values of business leaders. The message should highlight local impacts of climate change, the benefits of engagement to (the local) society and economy, and possible financial benefits for the business. Climate change communication therefore needs to go beyond thinking about potential financial benefits and scientific evidence and challenge values, cultures, and beliefs to stimulate economic, political, and social frameworks that promote values-based decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-99
Number of pages19
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Business values
  • Climate change
  • Communication of science
  • Ethnographic research
  • Low carbon economy
  • United Kingdom


Dive into the research topics of 'Communicating climate change - Learning from business: Challenging values, changing economic thinking, innovating the low carbon economy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this