Too complex for the public?
We need clever policymaking to reduce the cost of green premiums and de-risk new technologies for industries like ours.
This would support a virtuous feedback loop and help to build a greener economy for all – yet such bold investment would require public support.
Policymakers and television execs have something in common: they have a tendency to underestimate the sophistication and ability of the public and our audiences when it comes to understanding new information.
For years, creative content leaders have told albert ‘the public can’t engage with climate change – it’s too complex’ – but when faced with the Covid-19 pandemic, information and understanding thankfully spread faster than the virus.
Our annual Subtitles to Save the World report revealed that the word ‘Coronavirus’ was mentioned 11 times in 2019 but, perhaps unsurprisingly, more than 130,000 times in 2020.
Detailed data analysis was presented to the public and politicians answered questions on a regular basis, flanked by experts who could provide scientific background and steer us to understand the complications in decision-making.
We need the same for climate change. Until then, the film and TV industry will be doing what lifting it can.
When TV makes an impact
Our young industry has form in shaping debate, highlighting the issues of our time and applying responsible storytelling to effect change.
When the United States had a troubling trend of drink driving-related fatalities in the 1980s, TV writers inserted drink driving prevention messages into scripts of shows like Cheers – and ‘designated driver’ became a household phrase.
Blue Planet II captured the imaginations of global audiences and arguably kicked off the ‘war on plastic’ and, more recently, Love Island has ignited an interest in pre-loved fashion through its partnership with eBay.
While much of the world is reeling from the hottest year on record, extreme flooding, droughts, wildfires and energy crises, climate change can sometimes still be seen by some as an intangible, ‘not going to affect us’ issue.
Our industry is in a unique position to tell stories across different regions and genres, and can help different audiences to engage with the challenges of – and solutions to – mitigating this challenge.
The power of storytelling
We can learn so much from young people who are facing the effects of climate change today, native communities who have lived in harmony with their natural environment since well before the Industrial Revolution and from engineers the world over who are inventing the next technology to replace fossil fuels.
But without the television and film industry, it is unlikely that these stories would ever reach our living rooms.
The more that governments of the world can support production in ‘walking the walk’, the more able they’ll be to turn their attention to what they do best: story tell.
The public – our audiences – are sophisticated. They deserve to be given the opportunity to hear the details, nuance and the complexities of science-informed decision-making, set in the context of political and economic arenas.
And policymaking would be all the better for it.