Talking Climate 2.0: Turning Research into Practice

September 25, 2018 - 9:30am to 4:00pm

How to start a conversation Albertans care about.

Building on the success of last year’s Talking Climate events, George Marshall returns to Calgary to unpack the insights and perspectives of the Alberta Narratives Project – a year-long community initiative that engaged more than 500 Albertans and uncovers new ways of talking about climate and energy in our province.

Joined by expert communicators Delyse Sylvester and Jamie Clarke, this full-day training will offer practical skills and strategic insights on how to address polarization, design and deliver effective communications that speak to what people truly care about and showcase the research underpinning it.

Register on Eventbrite

What you will gain

This event aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice through skills-building for educators and communicators. At Talking Climate 2.0 you will:

  • Hear from three of the most original thinkers and practitioners in climate-energy engagement.
  • Gain an in-depth understanding of how to talk about climate and energy in Alberta based on the insights of two brand new works in climate engagement: the Alberta Narratives Project and the Whole Family Happiness Project.
  • Be warned of the language and approaches to avoid in Alberta.
  • Better understand identity politics and why environmental engagement strategies are losing the hearts and minds of Canadians.
  • Step out of our echo chambers and learn how to leverage social media and peer-to-peer approaches.
  • Develop skills to design and deliver effective communication by practically applying these learnings in workshop format and critically exploring how it applies to your organization and audiences.
  • Leave the day with a plan to move this work forward in your organization. 

Intended Audience

This event has been designed for communicators, engagement and outreach practitioners with different levels of experience from a wide-range of sectors including government, energy, education, business, environment and civil society. Organizational teams are encouraged to register, though spots are limited to 150.


  • 9:00 am Registration Opens
  • 9:30 am Welcome Remarks
  • 9:45 am Presentation: Having Climate-Energy Conversations in Alberta: What Works and What Doesn't
  • 10:45 am Break
  • 11:00 am Workshop: How to Use the Alberta Narratives Project in your Work
  • 12:30 pm Lunch
  • 1:00 pm Presentation: The Walls We Build: Identity Politics and the Clean Economy Transition
  • 2:15 pm Workshop: Engaging Canadians Where they Live, Play and Work
  • 3:45 pm Closing Remarks

Having Climate-Energy Conversations in Alberta: What Works and What Doesn't

Few issues facing Canada are as divided – and divisive – as climate change and energy.

In this interactive presentation, George Marshall, co-founder of Climate Outreach, will provide an in-depth look at the results of the Alberta Narratives Project -- a year-long community-based initiative to explore the reasons for this divide, and to seek new and more constructive ways for people in Alberta to talk about these pressing issues. In particular, it seeks to replace an often combative debate with a constructive conversation based on shared values and respect for people’s different ways of seeing the world.

More than 85 individuals and organizations were involved in the Alberta Narratives Project and together hosted upwards of 60 roundtable discussions around Alberta, making this one of the largest public engagements of its kind. They spoke with a broad spectrum of Albertans ranging from farmers, oil sands workers, senior business people, youth groups, environmental activists, New Canadians and many more.

George will offer practical guidance for communicators about what language works, what does not, how to reduce polarization, and he will challenge participants to explore how to use the insights of the Alberta Narratives Project in their work.

The Alberta Narratives Project was made possible through the support of Alberta Ecotrust, Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Canada West Foundation, Calgary Foundation, City of Calgary, Clean Economy Fund, Energy Efficiency Alberta, Energy Futures Lab, Pembina Institute, P & C Carlson, A & H Shiff, Suncor Energy, Telus Spark, University of Alberta and the University of Calgary.

The Walls We Build: Identity Politics and the Clean Economy Transition

Rather than asking people to move positions, change tribes and adopt our point of view, Delyse Sylvester of Social Currents is committed to exploring how low-carbon narratives can become part of the spaces where the 70+ percent of people outside of the ‘green tent’ already live, play and work.

In this presentation she will examine what she’s learned engaging with Canadian middle audiences and why, despite increased public engagement campaigns, environmental campaigners may be losing the hearts and minds of Canadians.

She will address the implications of the growing tide of populism and the inherent lack of trust citizens have in expert-driven key messages to climate-energy work. She will discuss new ways to engage the public that are not top down but peer-engaged, how to put the colourful lived experiences of Canadians at the center of the climate and low carbon engagements and challenge us to focus on the Canadian ‘middle’ communities and profile their stories, narratives and solutions to climate change.

Expert Communicators

George Marshall is the lead researcher of the Alberta Narratives Project. He and the organization he co-founded, Climate Outreach, are leading specialists in climate communications. His work spans the political spectrum and seeks to break down boundaries of culture, class and politics to find values and language we all share. He is a lead advisor to European governments and counts the World Bank, United Nations, World Wildlife Fund and all major British political parties among his clients. His book, Don’t Even Think About It, is widely regarded as one of the most important books published on climate change communications.

Delyse Sylvester has three decades of expertise connecting social entrepreneurs with corporate leaders, thought leaders and new media partners. With Ashoka Changemakers, she led over 60 co-branded campaigns with partners such as the National Geographic Society, Nike, GE, the G20, eBay, Google, and the Robert Wood Johnson, Rockefeller and Gates Foundations, raising over $60 million for solutions to social and environmental challenges. Mentored by Nike’s social media experts and the eBay marketing leadership team, Sylvester has experimented with new media and global media. As president of Social Currents, Sylvester applies thought leadership and strategic direction across the ENGO “greening the economy” sector. With Natural Step Canada, she co-designs sustainability leadership labs that convene uncommon stakeholders and apply high-leveraged communication strategies to shift the energy transition narrative. She is also an executive in residence at SFU’s Beedie School of Business.

Jamie Clarke is the Executive Director of Climate Outreach and has guided the organization to become Europe’s leader in climate communications. A highly regarded facilitator as well as qualified teacher, he brings extensive experience working with academics, government, NGOs and businesses to his role. He is also the co-author of Talking Climate: From Research to Practice in Public Engagement.

Event Hosts

Talking Climate 2.0 is hosted by Alberta EcotrustClimate Outreachand Social Currents with support from the Government of AlbertaCalgary FoundationClean Economy Fund, the Donner Canadian Foundation, the Ivey Foundation, the Pembina Institute, and Suncor Energy.

Through their generous support, this full-day workshop will be offered at $35. Bursaries and participant access funding are available, please apply via this form.