Innovation Zero: Why business needs to avoid the ‘we’re f*cked’ narrative and focus on solutions

Businesses and industry need to avoid the ‘we’re fucked’ narrative, Solitaire Townsend, co-founder and chief solutionist at Futerra said at Innovation Zero, stressing the urgency of moving away from an absolute narrative about climate change and instead focusing on solutions.

“The only narrative we have right now is the ‘we’re fucked!’ narrative,” she said, speaking at the London event back in May, in a debate moderated by David Shukman, former science editor at the BBC.

While the narrative is indeed “very real”, Townsend went on to explain that “powerful” discussions about solutions are also needed.

She sat alongside Arlo Brady, chief executive officer of Freuds and Elena Doms, head of +Earth+ at to speak about how corporate communications, public relations, advertisers and think tanks need to highlight climate change transparently without greenwashing.

Doms shared her storytelling technique with the Innovation Zero audience when communicating the urgency of climate change. Sharing anecdotes before connecting the story to graphs and figures allows the data to become “more human and personal”,  helping to connect the message even further.


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Greenwashing and Greenhushing

As more businesses talk about their climate change policies — especially if they feel the pressure to do so — the chances of greenwashing naturally increases.

Townsend believes that “a certain percentage of [greenwashing claims] are malicious” as they are “deliberately attempting to manipulate public views”.

“Usually, oil and gas industries are particularly bad at that,” she added, before conceding that the majority of greenwashing isn’t malicious, as much as it is “enthusiastic marketers who have found what motivates them and are desperate to get this message out there”.

All panellists acknowledged that it’s becoming more common for companies to actively avoid talking about or marketing their green policies in order to avoid attracting unwanted attention or criticism. This practise is typically known as ‘greenhushing’.

“We’re already living in a climate of misinformation,” said Brady, “so companies need to dial up the volume on scrutiny and dialogue, regulation and companies doing good.”

Changing green communication policies and making them more effective was a common theme throughout the Innovation Zero debate.

Townsend said companies need to “stop talking about themselves” to avoid greenwashing: “Talk about issues that matter to your customer and say what you’re doing to help their sustainable goals.”

Climate crisisInnovationNet zeroPolicy

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