Climate Visuals

Climate Visuals

Based on international social research, Climate Visuals provides 7 principles for a more diverse, relatable and compelling visual language for climate change accessed via an online image library.

UK | 15/01/2017 – 15/02/2019

The idea that ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ is truer than ever in the digital era, where images and video play a central role in communication and engagement. But until recently, climate communicators have paid very little attention to imagery, with the same cliched pictures appearing again and again (polar bears, smokestacks and melting ice). The Climate Visuals project (led by Climate Outreach) aims to solve this problem by catalysing a new visual language for climate change that focuses on the diverse human stories at the centre of the climate change challenge. Based on international social research with over 3000 people, we developed a set of 7 core principles for more effectively communicating climate change through imagery. Based on these principles – which include the importance of showing real people affected by and responding to climate change, rather than polar bears and protesters – we produced a website ( which contains a growing library of climate images that point the way to a new visual language for climate change. Every image is captioned to explain why it ‘works’, providing inspiration and guidance to campaigners, picture editors, journalists and communications practitioners choosing imagery for communicating climate change. Since launch, we have experienced what a great appetite there is from organisations to better communicate climate change to their audiences. The new website was launched on 1st May and there have been over 8,000 users from close to 60 countries worldwide, with regular feedback on how people are using the resource to inform their work. This has included a range of NGOs such as WWF, Tearfund, Mission 2020, CAN international, international universities, IPCC, US Global Change Research Programme and many more. But core funding for this pioneering programme ends in early 2019, and new funding is required to ensure that this valuable and unique resource is sustained and can continue to support positive communications practices among partners and users around the world.

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Editor’s Note: All information published as submitted by the author(s). Minor edits may have been made to increase readability and understanding.