The “why” of carbon pricing

Like many of my readers, I am concerned at the turn the public debate has taken on carbon pricing – lead principally by climate-denier Tony Abbott, rent-seeking big polluters and an ignorant and conflict-obsessed media pack.

The Psychology of Climate Change CommunicationThere are already hundreds of good quality guides to climate messaging (and little of the advice in them is being followed), so I won’t rehash them here.

Nevertheless, I wonder if the main problem is that the pro-carbon price advocates have skipped an important step – the “why” of carbon pricing.

I was recently directed to the work of a fellow called Simon Sinek, a lecturer in … well, a bunch of stuff… who sees his mission as helping organisations, businesses, movements, etc focus on the “why” – why do they do what they do.

These kind of purpose-driven organisations are typically (from the behavioural economics case studies I’ve read) more successful than their counterparts.

Here’s a TED talk he gave back in 2009. Think about the carbon price debate and how it’s focused on “what will be done” and “how it will implemented” rather than the “why we need a carbon price”.

Now, I know that it’s Catch-22 with this debate. The media have already decided that the only way to report the carbon price story is through the prism of conflict and criticism with the Government. The media lost interest in climate change and its devestating effects in 2009. Many climate activists rightly feel that we talked about the “why” non-stop from 2006-2009 and the media only listened for 6 months in the lead up to Copenhagen.

Perhaps though, if we all talked again about the “why” of carbon pricing, the “what” and “how” wouldn’t be so difficult.


If you haven’t seen the latest Essential Report on carbon pricing, here it is. (Click on the image to see a large view.)

Essential Research - Climate Change - carbon pricing scheme

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