Paul W Duignan, PhD - Positive climate strategy.


Fulbright Senior Scholar; Honorary Research Fellow Massey University;  consulted to governments and international organizations such as the IMF; involved in climate change impact risk estimation; strategy development and public commentary. Get in touch to talk further.


NEW! Workshops on climate change ‘What-If’ planning

What’s new in my climate change work?

My work in other areas apart from climate change

  • New paper on applying to climate action a number of tools for rapid community and policy-level action that I have been involved in developing over a number of years.
  • PDF of all of my published climate change opinion pieces
  • Below are some areas I am focusing on, followed by each of my recent opinion pieces on climate change and at the bottom of the page is a proof of concept DoView Strategy Diagram using my visual planning software and methodology to spell out a country’s climate change strategy.

Reducing instances of climate change risk (mis)management

I am interested in the psychology of climate change risk management estimation. A particular focus of mine is the institutional arrangements around climate change risk estimation.

In mature risk management situations (where we have experienced the risk many times and realise the impact of underestimating a risk) science-based 'risk estimators' provide estimates within which they have included a 'safety margin' to deal with the known unknowns and unknown unknowns that may occur.

The key source of climate change risk estimates, the IPCC, while very productive, has never been specifically tasked with providing such estimates (ones including a safety margin). This missing element in climate change risk estimation means that decision-makers and the public are not getting a sufficiently clear statement of risk that has not already been traded-off against cost and feasibility.

I am currently working on how this can best be done drawing on examples from other, more mature, areas of risk management.

Visual Strategy Diagrams for faster climate change action

Action on climate change mitigation and adaptation is about to move into a new phase of hyper-activity. This will happen as the public, political and business leaders realise exactly what we are now facing. As this happens it is important to use more efficient, cutting-edge, approaches to strategy development and implementation. We also need to be able to share strategy fast so that no one has to 'reinvent the wheel' either within, or between, organisations, regions or countries.

I specialize in the use of a new visual strategy tool that speeds strategy development, implementation and best practice sharing. I am now using this approach (DoView Strategy Diagrams) to accelerate strategy development in the climate change area.

One of my Opinion Piece on why public opinion is likely to change fast

Booklet on visual DoView Strategy Diagrams for faster strategy and planning

Go to the bottom of page to click through an interactive DoView Strategy Diagram of a country's climate change strategy or click to view the PDF

Public and stakeholder climate change panic, morale and motivation

Another of my interests is the area of climate change and community morale and motivation. One issue in this area is the importance of framing-up climate change messaging within a positive frame. This frame is that there are many potential lines of action that can be pursued. It is easy to present an unrelenting picture of doom and gloom. This is not to say that there is not much to worry about regarding climate change. It is just that the public needs to be presented with not only the facts about the problem, but also with possible ways to attempt to deal with the increasing number of problems that are being identified.

Second, and related to this issue, local and regional government is now undertaking increasing work on climate change. Naturally enough they are starting by coming to terms with the problem or 'diagnosis'. However it is equally important that they progress work on possible ways to adapt to climate change so that the public is not just presented with a stream of negative climate change news without clearly emerging possibilities for adaptation that they can get behind.

One of my Opinion Piece on pushing back against climate change doom and gloom

One of my Opinion Pieces pointing to the importance of identifying solutions not just problems

'What-If' climate change planning

Climate change presents a particular risk management problem. Humans only implement robust risk management appproaches following a series of disasters that have arisen due to inadequate risk management. With climate change, if we wait for the risks to eventuate we are likely to have passed critical tipping points.

The challenge therefore is to somehow get people and institutions to implement a sufficiently robust risk managment approach before we have to suffer from the risk becoming a reality. One key approach to assist with this is the use of 'What-If' planning. This is where, when developing strategy, we do not just develop a single strategy pathway.

So, for instance, if we are planning to decarbonize by 2050 we obviously would have a pathway for this. But when doing this planning we should also be developing a possible pathway for doing it in two-thirds of the time and for doing it in half the time. This is how strategy is approached in a military and other emergency situation.

Strategic positivity

I bring the perspective of a psychologist to the question of planning and implementing climate strategy. My approach goes under the name of Positive Climate Strategy. Four key elements to this approach are: first, helping people process the psychological concerns they have when facing the reality of climate change: second, being completely realistic about the risks that climate change involves; third, emphasizing the wide range of effective strategies that can be deployed at the personal, organizational, local, national and international level. Fourth, using What-If Planning to provide the psychological space to let people think about what might be required.

One of my Opinion Piece on pushing back against climate change doom and gloom

One of my Opinion Pieces pointing to the importance of identifying solutions not just problems One of my Opinion Piece on why public opinion is likely to change fast

My recent media Opinion Pieces on Climate Change 

Eco-anxiety driving people into emergency mode?

A short comment by me on the News at Six on eco-anxiety and how this may motivate some people to move into emergency mode in regard to climate change and increase the action they are taking. It is likely that eco-anxiety will mount as scientists, leaders and protesters continue to emphasise the urgency of climate change action. From a psychological point of view, if people can turn their anxiety into action, this can help them feel an increased sense of agency in the face of a threat.

Eco-anxiety Moving People Into Emergency Mode on Climate Change?

Are We Getting Into Emergency Mode on Climate Change?

As more information emerges from scientists and more local government organisations declare climate emergencies, how will the public react? Psychologists are starting to think that decision-makers and the public are at a tipping point where they may be starting to move into emergency mode. This is a 'wartime like' response where people focus in on a problem as their top priority; make huge allocation of resources in the attempt to solve it; and pitch in with all of their talents and energy to try to solve it.

Is the Population Starting to Get Into Emergency Mode?

Public opinion may move suprisingly fast on climate change

Extinction Rebellion's mounting civil disobedience and the recent school strikes show increasing concern about climate change. This might accelerate if a recent UK Met Office prediction plays. It forcasts an exceptionally hot next five years for the globe. Public opinion may harden on climate change as the public grapples with the climate change tipping points problems. This is the fact that to be reasonably certain of avoiding tipping points we need to not only reduce further emissions but also work out how to actually rapidly start extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Public Opinion May Move Fast Opinion Piece

Climate change - let's hear the solutions, not just problems

As climate change worsens, there is a risk that national and local government will feed the public a steady stream of climate bad news. One example is maps showing suburbs that are at risk of being inundated by sea level rise.

In many areas where humans face problems, people tend to present both a 'diagnosis' and some possible 'solution' options at the same time. This keeps up morale and motivation. There is a risk in the climate change space that local and national government will present the public with a stream of problems but not yet have come up with corresponding options for attempting to address the problems. This approach is likely to lead to panic or resistance from the public.

Solutions Not Just Problems Opinion Piece.

No, the heatwave isn't lovely - it's extremely worrying

When an unusual heat wave strikes an area that normally experiences cooler weather, there is a tendency for some people to, well intentionedly, express how nice they are finding the warm weather. While it is hard to attribute any one weather event to climate change, such events are exactly what one would expect as climate change progresses. From a sensible risk management point of view, such events should actually motivate us to act to confront the risks presented by climate change.

The Heathwave Isn't Lovely Opinion Piece

Forget the climate doom and gloom - it's time to be positive

There is a lot of climate change doom and gloom around, however things are now moving fast as public opinion changes. Many people are now realising that it is time to face the climate change challenge head on. New technology can help us out in various ways if we adopt a positive view and seize the moment. It's time to now move forward and embrace the multiple opportunities that are opening up around constructively responding to climate change.

The Forget the Doom and Gloom Opinion Piece

Visual DoView Strategy Diagram of a climate change strategy for a country

Click on the boxes with gray triangles in them to drill-down and up within the diagram. Get a PDF of the Strategy Diagram. Get in touch with us if you want to adapt this, or other climate change Strategy Diagrams that we have developed for the city, region,  country, setting, organization or sector in which you are working.


© Parker Duignan 2013-2019. Parker Duignan is a trading name of The Ideas Web Ltd.