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François Gemenne

There are plenty of reasons, and not just legal reasons, to avoid using the term ‘climate refugee’. I am well aware of them. Without denying that these reasons exist, this chapter argues that there are also at least two good reasons to use the term ‘refugee’ – not in the legal sense, of course, but in the sense to which people relate when using that term, as a reflection of the plight of the individuals in question. And this is not just a matter of semantics. We should talk of climate refugees, this chapter submits, because climate change is a form of political persecution, and because the term ‘migrant’ has sadly become a life-threatening label, in a world marred by populism and xenophobia.

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François Gemenne and Anneliese Depoux

In the face of the Covid-19 pandemics, many governments are currently implementing urgent, costly and radical measures to slow down the spread of the pandemics. Yet we haven’t been able, so far, to take similar measures to confront climate change, despite repeated calls from activists and scientists alike to declare a state of ‘climate emergency’. In this piece we try to outline four early lessons from the sanitary crisis to improve our communication on climate change: 1. The need to focus more on the immediate consequences of climate change, and less on the long-term objectives; 2. The impacts of climate change on public health need to be emphasized in public debates; 3. Climate change should not be described as a 'crisis'; 4. Response from civil society will not suffice; top-down communication and measures will also be needed.

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Anneliese Depoux and François Gemenne

Public health campaigns, as climate change awareness campaigns, are all about making people change their behaviour. They also have in common that some of them have to deal with fabricated scientific controversies, such as vaccination campaigns. Public health communication has developed significantly in the last decades and is now an important field of research in public health. In the Spring of 2020, the world had to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and implemented radical measures to contain the spread of the virus. Many suggested that similar measures were needed against climate change. We argue the opposite, but there are many lessons from this crisis that can be applied to our communication of climate change. This paper attempts to identify which lessons from the COVID-19 crisis can be applied to climate change communication. In particular, the effects of public health communication on people’s behaviour during the crisis will be analyzed, and the obstacles to translate such effects to climate change communication shall be identified.