Climate Communications: How Global Warming Became Climate Change at the US Dept. of State


U.S. Dept. of State Foreign Service Officer Liz Murphy and Public Affairs Specialist Billie Gross of the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs discuss using social media for climate communications, rebuilding bridges with the international climate community, and extending the reach of the UN Climate Change Conference via Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.  

Climate Change Public Affairs Podcasts

To win support for responsible climate policy, you need bipartisan support. In this exclusive interview, public affairs specialists share the strategies and tactics they use to promote climate action policy.

Public Affairs Guests 

Liz Murphy, Public Diplomacy Officer

Before this assignment, Liz Murphy served as a Public Diplomacy Officer in Baku, Azerbaijan, and as a Consular Officer in Monterrey, Mexico.  She has an A.B. degree in history from Harvard.  

Billie Gross, Public Relations Specialist

In addition to her work at the State Department in 2006, Billie Gross also serves a public relations specialist at BRG Public Relations.  Before joining the State Dept, she worked as an assistant human resource specialist at the U.S. Dept. of Energy.  

Climate Communications Insights

01:03 – How the US Dept. of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs promotes transformational diplomacy by advancing global environmental stewardship, encouraging economic growth and promoting social development.  

03:03 – Facts about global warming:  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s authoritative scientific consensus on climate change, is indeed occurring.  The IPCC shared the Noble Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007.  

04:06 – How the Bureau responds to the claim that U.S. carbon emissions per capita are among the world’s highest.  

04:58 – The international community’s response to renewed efforts from the US to play a role in capping carbon emissions after the Kyoto Protocol.  

06:19 – Preconceived notions of developed and developing nations in the international climate community towards the US and hard emissions targets, emissions trading, financing objectives, and securing room for future growth.  

07:24 – What the US Dept. of State’s diplomatic delegation hopes to achieve at the COP 15 UN Copenhagen Climate Conference.  

08:46 – The impact of an article in the New York Times titled “Leaders Will Delay Deal on Climate Change” on the US Dept. of State delegation’s morale and momentum.  

09:56 – Propel Media Events asks via Twitter, “Where did you begin? What type of social media plan did you start with? What are the key metrics to ensure success?”  

10:31 – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s attitude toward social media engagement and the various social media channels the US Department of State has established, including the DIPNOTE blog, to extend the reach of their activities online.  (The State Dept also has a presence on Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Twitter.)  

11:57 – Can the U.S. Department of State effectively achieve global electronic engagement in the age of social media without violating the Smith-Mundt Act, as discussed with Mountain Runner public diplomacy blogger Matt Armstrong in a previous podcast episode?  

14:32 – What was involved in establishing a Facebook Page to extend the reach of the U.S. delegation’s activities at the COP15 conference, and how the Bureau plans to use the Facebook presence there?  

16:08 – How the Bureau is working to draw fans to its new COP15 UN Climate Change Conference 2009 Facebook page and a discussion of the US State Dept’s Facebook page and the Office of Global Women’s Issues Facebook page.  

17:25 – A discussion of where climate change ranks in importance in global issues and whether or not the number of fans attracted to the COP15 Facebook page could impact the legislative process.  

19:48 – The different panels, speakers, and other live events will be occurring at the COP15 conference and simulcast on the Bureau’s new website, the centerpiece of the State Dept’s social media strategy at the conference.  

22:01 – The social media strategy by which the Bureau will determine what kind of content to release through which online media channels and in what sequence.  

24:58 – The bureau’s online video strategy for simulcasting live and serving up video on demand.  

27:01 – The schedule of events will be posted on Twitter and Facebook.  

28:28 — George Clark asks via Twitter, “How will they use the US Dept. of State’s field network, embassies, consulates, etc., to enhance their approach to social media?”  

29:30 – Tapping into US Embassy networks and regional offices worldwide to stimulate participation in live online chats to solicit questions and feedback on a global basis.  

30:32 – What foreign policy changes could the US make to lessen domestic carbon emissions, and how to get actions at home into an enforceable, international agreement?  

32:33 – Liz Murphy and Billie Gross discuss lessons learned as professional communicators that could be applied to the private sector, like building consensus and tailoring messages to different audiences.  

35:20 – The US Dept. of State challenges participants to win an all-expense paid international exchange program in the “Change Your Climate, Change Your World” video contest.  

36:49 — End

Photo by Garrett Sears on Unsplash

Our Podcasts