Climate leaders around the world know that storytelling is the most powerful tool we have to lead us to a carbon-neutral future. But, no one has invested in creating a practical way to do it - until now. In this episode, you’ll meet Per Grankvist, Chief Storyteller of the Viable Cities project in Sweden. As a well-known author, journalist and sustainability expert, his mission is to lead a research project to develop, test and scale a storytelling toolkit that will help cities across the country become carbon-neutral faster.
During our conversation, we explore the history, challenges and opportunities of climate storytelling through a lens of citizen engagement. Part of the problem Per and his colleagues have identified is that visions of the future are often too much like advertising – so grand and abstract that real people can’t seem themselves there. They can also be scary, more focused on loss than reality.
“So if I tell you that we have to live a climate-neutral life, what might spring to mind is that I will take your car away and your burger away. You can never go to Hawaii again. And so it feels like I will compromise your life rather than to enhance it. Instead, we will describe what will change in your life. Things will get better and some things will remain the same. You will still be able to have a fat greasy, juicy burger, but it may not be made out of animals. For example, you will still be able to smoke. You will still be able to drink wine and get sometimes too drunk on Fridays. You will still have kids who are quarrelling in the back of your car, although that vehicle will be electric.”
Over the next ten years, the project will research and develop ways to use stories to engage people in co-creating specific transition solutions - or stories of the future - that will work for them, in their specific places. As new tools and finding emerge, Per and his team will share them with the rest of the world for other countries to adapt and apply to their own unique challenges.
As Per reminds us, in the words of Aristotle, “Storytelling rules the world. If you want to change the world, you need to master storytelling.” Make sure you tune in to find out how this team of global leaders are doing just that!
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