Grassroots Storytelling: Clean Energy & Climate Justice

Climate Visuals and The Sunrise Project, funded by the European Climate Foundation (ECF), are working on a storytelling project in three countries across Europe; Poland, Germany and the UK, to document and amplify the impacts of the cost of living crisis, with a specific focus on the solution of a just transition to clean and affordable energy. It is the aim that the project will include both impacts and solutions to the above issues.

The Sunrise Project’s mission is to scale social movements to drive the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy as fast as possible. Climate Visuals are creating a new visual language for climate change. Our approach, based on evidence and experience, is that imagery needs to embody people-centred narratives and positive solutions and resonate with the identity and values of the viewer – not just environmentalists.

Putin's ongoing invasion in Ukraine highlights the urgency to transition the energy system to address both the climate and cost of living crises. We're collaborating on this project to support more people-centred storytelling showing the impacts of the energy and cost of living crises alongside the organising and solutions that are being promoted by communities and civil society to drive the transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy.

Roman Gorczyca and his partner Ilona Nowak are one of the few remaining people still living in the buildings at Zwirowa street. Despite legal restrictions, Gorczyca installed a small oven in their room to be able to prepare some food and heat the space that gets quickly cold in winter due to very bad thermal conditions of the building. Rybnik, Silesia, Poland. Photo credit: Kasia Strek/Climate Visuals

Through this storytelling work we hope to create content and resources for organisers and campaigners to use to bring people together, build community power and pressure those with financial and political responsibility to support a just transition to renewable energy.

The objectives of this project are:

  • To uplift the voices of the unheard communities most affected by rising energy prices, from families to small business owners, then call for a bold energy vision and a swift transition towards climate solutions and renewables
  • To build awareness, relationships, insights and trust with communities and people at the intersection of the energy cost and climate crisis

The resulting image collection will be shared through press and social media placement, as well as designed into campaign material. It will also be hosted on the Climate Visuals library, making the images available to registered users in the non-profit, educational and media sectors.

Climate Visuals featured by World Press Photo on Instagram

Climate Visuals is featured on World Press Photo’s Instagram feed today and tomorrow (19 and 20 December).

We will be sharing photographs from Ocean Visuals and Visualizing Climate Change, as well as elements of our guidelines on ethics and values, photography briefs and evidence base with World Press Photo’s 1.6m Instagram followers.

View the posts here and share to amplify the resources.

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Ocean Visuals collection featured in The Times

The Times featured the Ocean Visuals collection in a gallery - "What oceans tell us about a changing world — in pictures"

Register now at Climate Visuals for immediate access, and browse, download and amplify the Ocean Visuals story.


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Climate Visuals at COP27

The Ocean Visuals collection was exhibited at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

The collection could be found within the COP27 Blue Zone in the digital exhibition programmes of the Nature Zone pavilion.

Noora Firaq, Interim Executive Director & Operations Director of Climate Outreach, spoke on the panel and sharing insights on the Ocean Visuals project at the Communicating Ocean Science for Climate Action event in the UNESCO pavilion at 15:45-16:45 Egypt time (13:45-14:45 GMT) on Wednesday 9 of November and also at Communicating Science for Policy: the challenge and opportunity in the Nature Positive News Room, Blue Zone. 11.15-11.30 Egypt time (9:15-9:30 GMT), Friday 11 November.

Noora was also available to discuss the Ocean Visuals project, Climate Visuals and Climate Outreach, on a drop-in basis between 11:45 and 13:45 Egypt time (9:45-11:45 GMT) on Friday 11 November in the Nature Zone pavilion.

Please get in touch with any queries.

More information here on Climate Outreach at COP27.

Ocean Visuals images on display as part of the digital exhibition programme in the Nature Zone Pavilion, COP27, Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. November 2022.

Photo credit: Sophie Hulme / Communications Inc

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Amplify the Ocean Visuals story

Amplify the Ocean Visuals story and share the collection with your network.

    • 93 evidence based photographs selected by an independent jury
    • Freely available to the media, non-profits, campaigners and educators
    • Increasing the diversity and impact of climate and visual communications 

The Ocean Visuals collection is a unique, freely available, evidence-based collection of impactful and diverse imagery of ocean, coastal and climate stories.

Amplify the project, and support ocean-climate communication at a global scale during COP27 and beyond.

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Ocean Visuals collection featured in The Guardian

The Guardian published a selection of photographs from the Ocean Visuals collection in a gallery entitled “The profound link between the climate crisis and the ocean - in pictures”.

Register now at Climate Visuals for immediate access, and browse, download and amplify the Ocean Visuals story.


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Climate Visuals releases the Ocean Visuals collection

A new evidence-based collection of impactful and diverse imagery of ocean, coastal and climate stories has been released by Climate Visuals ahead of COP27. The Ocean Visuals collection is accessible and free to use by the media, journalists, non-profit sector, campaigners and educators in articles and communications. 

“This collection will support communications impact whilst diversifying climate and ocean imagery on a global scale”, explains Climate Visuals Programme Lead, Toby Smith.

“Thousands of photographers spanning 102 countries participated in an open call in September. Our independent jury have made their combined decisions and with the advisory board prioritised values and ethics to only select images that reflect best practice”.

Ocean Visuals is a response to the urgent need for more impactful, diverse and equitably accessible ocean-climate imagery while ensuring ethical and fair payment to photographers. The project is a partnership between Climate Visuals and Communications Inc, funded by Erol, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) and Macdoch Foundation / NPT Transatlantic.

"It was a pleasure to watch this collection come together from every corner of the globe, and explore the vast range of narratives, geographies and storytellers represented. We all hope for these images to be used to represent the mounting threats to our planet with depth and nuance", says Ocean Visuals advisory board member, Daniella Zalcman.

Ocean Visuals is built on strict guidelines for ethics, values and image manipulation. Combined with eight ocean-climate photographic principles, derived from a review of evidence and research into ocean imagery, it will raise the bar on visual communication at COP27 in the ’Ocean Super Year’ and into the UN Decade of Ocean Science.

Use of the collection will increase the breadth and impact of media and campaign coverage at COP27 - particularly given the predicted focus on oceans, finance, loss and damage - while also ensuring that all communicators can access quality, verified imagery equitably.

The eight principles of effective ocean-climate photography are:

  1. Show people in ocean and coastal regions with authenticity
  2. Visualise the diversity of people-and-ocean connections
  3. Tell new stories
  4. Find ocean and climate causes, impacts and solutions at scale
  5. Pair emotionally powerful impacts with positive actions
  6. Develop ideas to invite curiosity and foster engagement
  7. Prioritise ethics, safety, wellbeing and prevention of harm
  8. Be aware of problem narratives


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About the research

The ocean plays a vital role in regulating the climate and in doing so protects us from the worst impacts of climate change. Despite this, the link between the climate and the ocean is not commonly understood, talked about or integrated into the way we tackle the climate crisis.

Ocean Visuals hopes to better incorporate the ocean and be inclusive of the diverse experiences of coastal communities, including estuaries, rivers, inland waterways, urban, rural and remote environments, into global communications about climate. Climate Visuals and Communications Inc have developed the guidance and briefing note for the Ocean Visuals Open Call based on industry best practice, published research and evidence on people’s responses to imagery. The aim of the research report is to guide civil society, campaigners, media, educators and scientists on the use of visuals to communicate ocean-climate issues more effectively.


About the Ocean Visuals open call 

A global, equitable and open call for photography took place from 1-14 September, 2022. The call highlighted and heard new narratives and voices direct from communities around the world. The objective was to source and licence 100 powerful images taken by both professional and amateur photographers. This open call distributed a total licensing fund of US $100,000 - with all final images selected by a diverse and independent jury, before professional verification and advisory board review including the removal of images that contradict beyond best-practice regarding representation.

Ocean Visuals  builds on a previous initiative delivered by Climate Visuals and TED Countdown, whose participation phase reached 5.2M users on social media and generated 5,500 gender-balanced submissions from over 140 countries worldwide in 2021. The collection released during the impact phase is regularly accessed by a growing user group of over 5,600 communicators and editors resulting in thousands of editorial, campaign and social media usages of the imagery.


About Climate Visuals 

Climate Visuals is the world’s only evidence-based programme for climate change photography. It is run by Climate Outreach, a team of social scientists and communication specialists working to widen and deepen public engagement with climate change. Through research, practical guides and consultancy services, Climate Outreach helps organisations communicate about climate change in ways that resonate with the values of their audiences and leads to action.

The visual narratives in circulation must move from illustrating climate causes and impacts to climate justice, solutions and positive change. Ocean Visuals’ online submission and licensing process will consider a broad range of diversity, equity and inclusion factors to ensure that the opportunity is global, accessible, fair, representative, illustrative and impactful. The goal is to provide a platform, amplify voices and serve visual tools to people and communities not yet represented.


About Communications Inc

Communications Inc is a small communications agency with big ideas, which works with non-profits around the globe. We put our specialist experience and wide-ranging network of contacts to work for our clients, addressing social and environmental issues across the globe, yet we remain approachable, adaptable and passionate.

To grab attention, set agendas and change behaviour you need a creative and thoughtful communications strategy, one that is based on a thorough and realistic analysis of your situation and environment. You also need an agency that understands the particular challenges and opportunities of non-for-profits and international communications.


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Germany Talks Climate Visuals

Germany Talks Climate Visuals

For the German language version of this summary click here


Climate change is not just something we know, it is also something we feel and see. This latest iteration of climate visuals research investigates how climate change and climate action are seen in Germany and which images resonate with people with different views in society.

The research formed part of the larger Übers Klima reden (in English: Germany Talks Climate) study conducted in February and March 2022 examining attitudes towards climate change and climate action in Germany. Übers Klima reden is a joint project by Climate Outreach, More in Common Germany and, funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.

These results on imagery form the first image research update in Germany since the original Climate Visuals study in 2016. The underlying research was developed in collaboration with More in Common and uses their values-based segmentation approach for the first time in visual research with German society.

Based on the Seven Climate Visuals principles, 17 images were selected and tested with six focus groups in Germany as well as through a representative survey with a sample of the German population. Due to the research design, these findings are mostly based on limited qualitative data. While these insights have been analysed to the best of our knowledge, the study also makes it clear that further quantitative image research is necessary to substantiate the following findings:


    • Images of flooding in Germany are powerful and connect across society.
    • Imagery can be used to tell new stories about heatwaves.
    • Images of families and children can help people relate to climate change impacts.
    • Climate solutions imagery can effectively depict success stories but needs to be contextualised.
    • Images of activists generate mixed and often negative reactions.
    • Images depicting a range of renewables to represent Germany’s energy future are more likely to appeal across society.
    • Images portraying visions of the future have potential, but by definition appear distant.
    • Polar bears are iconic, but not sufficiently compelling.


Top three images

Aftermath of the 2021 floods in Rech, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Photo credit: Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images





A mother and baby sitting on a bed above floodwater in their flooded home.

Mother and baby in their flooded home in Kolkata

What makes these images stand out?

  • a direct connection to climate change
  • emotional impact
  • relatable aspects (local environment; family with children)
  • illustration of an undesirable future (e.g. in the form of air pollution)

Overall, we found many of the seven Climate Visuals principles reflected in people’s responses to the images tested: the importance of localising the issue, showing climate impacts at scale and real people with real emotions responding to the way climate change is affecting their lives, as well as somewhat ambivalent responses to protest imagery. Other areas with significant potential for engaging wider audiences also emerged, such as images depicting visions of the future, both positive and negative. Clearly, more research is needed into how images might affect people’s awareness of climate risks and impacts as well as solutions, and how visual modes of communication influence people’s sense of self-efficacy (or personal agency) in the face of the climate crisis.


The full range of insights, as well as an overview of all the images that were tested, are available in German here.




Mit Bildern „Übers Klima reden”

Mit Bildern „Übers Klima reden”

For the English language version of this summary click here


Animierende Klimakommunikation benötigt nicht nur eine wertebasierte Sprache, sondern fordert ebenso die effektive Nutzung von Bildern. Da die visuelle Auseinandersetzung mit dem Klimawandel und Klimaschutz in Deutschland bisher nur wenig erforscht ist, haben wir im Rahmen unserer größeren „Übers Klima reden”-Studie versucht, diese Lücke in der evidenzbasierten visuellen Kommunikation zu schließen.

Die hier vorgestellten Ergebnisse zur Bildsprache bilden die erste Aktualisierung der Bildforschung in Deutschland seit der ursprünglichen Climate Visuals-Studie von 2016. Unsere neue Forschung wurde in Zusammenarbeit mit More in Common entwickelt und verwendet ihren wertebasierten Segmentierungsansatz, um die Ergebnisse nach verschiedenen Bevölkerungssegmenten aufschlüsseln zu können. Eine nützliche Ressource zur Bildsprache bietet auch das Handbuch von unserem Projektpartner „Übers Klima sprechen" (s. Kapitel 12: Nutze Bilder - aber wähle sie mit Bedacht aus).

Auf der Grundlage der sieben Climate Visuals-Prinzipien wurden 17 Bilder ausgewählt und in sechs Fokusgruppen in Deutschland sowie durch eine repräsentative Umfrage bei einer Stichprobe der deutschen Bevölkerung getestet. Aufgrund des Forschungsdesigns beruhen diese Ergebnisse hauptsächlich auf begrenzten qualitativen Daten. Während diese Erkenntnisse nach bestem Wissen ausgewertet wurden, macht die Studie gleichzeitig deutlich, dass weitere quantitative Bildforschung notwendig ist, um die folgenden Ergebnisse zu untermauern:


    • Bilder von Überschwemmungen in Deutschland sind eindrucksvoll für alle Typen
    • Bilder können neue, anregende Narrative zu Hitzewellen erzählen
    • Bilder von Familien und Kindern können helfen, eine Verbindung zum Klimawandel herzustellen
    • Bilder von Klimalösungen können Erfolgsgeschichten effektiv vermitteln, doch benötigen Kontext
    • Bilder von Aktivist:innen erzeugen gemischte und oft eher negative Reaktionen
    • Bilder, die Deutschlands Energiezukunft als eine Vielfalt erneuerbarer Energien darstellen, sprechen die Breite der Gesellschaft besser an 
    • Bilder von Zukunftsvisionen haben Potenzial, erscheinen aber definitionsgemäß weit entfernt
    • Eisbären haben Symbolcharakter, reichen aber nicht aus


Top 3 Bilder für alle Typen

Folgende drei Bilder wurden im Schnitt aller Fokusgruppen als Top 3 identifiziert:


Militär auf der Ahr vor einem Haus, das bei der Flutkatastrophe im Juli 2021 zerstört wurde

Photo credit: Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images



Luftverschmutzung durch Kohlekraftwerke im Zentrum von Delhi, Indien



A mother and baby sitting on a bed above floodwater in their flooded home.

Eine Mutter mit Baby in ihrem überfluteten Haus in Kolkata, Indien

Wodurch zeichnen sich diese Bilder aus?

    • zeigen unverkennbar Ursachen oder Folgen des Klimawandels
    • emotionale Wirkung (erzeugen Gefühle wie Schock, Abscheu oder Mitleid)
    • ermöglichen einen Bezug zum eigenen Lebenskontext (lokale Umgebung, Familie mit Kindern)
    • Veranschaulichung einer unerwünschten Zukunft, z. B. in Form von massiver Luftverschmutzung


Insgesamt lässt sich feststellen, dass sich viele der sieben Climate Visuals-Prinzipien in den Reaktionen der Menschen auf die getesteten Bilder widerspiegeln: die Notwendigkeit der Lokalisierung des Klimathemas, die Darstellung der Auswirkungen des Klimawandels, die Abbildung echter Menschen mit echten Gefühlen, sowie etwas ambivalente Reaktionen auf Protestbilder. Außerdem ergaben sich neue Erkenntnisse zu Bildmaterial, das Potenzial hat, ein breiteres Publikum anzusprechen. Vor allem Bilder, die Zukunftsvisionen darstellen, sowohl positive als auch negative, können für verschiedene Menschen durchaus motivierend wirken. Gleichzeitig macht diese Studie deutlich, dass mehr repräsentative Forschung notwendig ist, um herauszufinden, wie Bilder das Bewusstsein der Menschen für Klimarisiken und -auswirkungen sowie für Lösungen beeinflussen können und wie visuelle Kommunikation das Gefühl der Selbstwirksamkeit (oder der persönlichen Handlungsfähigkeit) der Menschen angesichts der Klimakrise beeinflussen.


Die Erkenntnisse in gesamter Länge sowie eine Übersicht aller getesteten Bilder sind hier einsehbar.



Ocean Visuals is seeking audience partners.

Ocean Visuals is seeking audience partners.

Ocean Visuals offers organisations and individuals a unique, free and mutual opportunity to collaborate with Climate Visuals and Comms Inc to engage with supporters and followers. This is an equitable and rewarding moment of participation to improve the quality and impact of Ocean and Climate photography.

Photographers can upload their own authentic narratives, and communicate tangible local stories to international audiences through new imagery.  100 images and photographers will be selected by an independent jury to share the US $100,000 licensing fee. These images will join our evidence-based collection of impactful imagery - all freely available to campaigners, the media and educators.

Your supporters can be rewarded and directly contribute to global communications, helping better integrate the ocean and climate stories.  We encourage and invite new design collaboration with our initiative and ‘Call to Actions’  tailored to the needs and interests of your audience networks.

Read more about what Ocean Visuals can offer you and your audiences.

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Ocean Visuals advisory board announced.

Ocean Visuals advisory board announced.

Climate Visuals is committed to achieving and promoting best practice in the issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, feminist and anti-colonial approaches to image research and photography. Our new Ocean Visuals project, both in structure and public facing content, will be informed, tested and influenced by the comments and lived experience of a paid, advisory board. The members of the board are:

Tahnee Burgess

As Media and Communications Officer with the National Environment Science Program's Climate Systems Hub, Tahnee connects decision makers and Traditional Owners with Australia's best available climate science. With more than 4 years of experience in climate communication with the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub and other organisations, Tahnee brings her experience in climate science and environmental security to the board. Tahnee holds a Masters of Environment and Sustainability, specialising in Environmental Security, and a double degree in Arts and Science.

Wacera F.

Wacera F. is a photo editor currently based in Nairobi, Kenya. They produce diverse visual stories & curatorial studio projects at Everyday Africa. Alongside The Everyday Projects Community Team, they have supported collaborative digital reportage and editorial projects exploring layout design with teams at The ICRC, World Press Photo Foundation, Photoville, Pulitzer Center, Code For Africa and others. Their work blends hands-on design for photo, art direction and media project management, utilising varied communication mediums, design disciplines and research techniques. Wacera is also a comic book artist.

Marielle Ramires 

Co-founder of Fora do Eixo and Mídia NINJA, Marielle is currently the coordinator of Environmental Ninja, a journalist and activist of communication, culture and human rights. Mídia Ninja is known for covering acts and protests of social movements throughout Brazil through photos, videos and live broadcasts. It works on the strengthening of groups and collectives that touch on different agendas, especially from deep Brazil.

Neeta Satam

Neeta is a freelance photojournalist, educator, and National Geographic Explorer based in Saint Louis and Mumbai. Her work explores the themes of environmental, racial, and social justice issues. In 2021, she joined the International League of Conservation Photographers as an Associate Fellow. Her personal history and cultural identity have always influenced both the issues that draw her as a visual journalist and her work.

Daniella Zalcman

Daniella is a Vietnamese-American documentary photographer based in New Orleans, LA. Her work tends to focus on the legacies of western colonization, from the rise of homophobia in East Africa to the forced assimilation education of Indigenous children in North America. She is a 2021 Catchlight Fellow, a multiple grantee of the National Geographic Society and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a fellow with the International Women's Media Foundation, and the founder of Women Photograph, a nonprofit working to elevate the voices of women and nonbinary visual journalists.


The board will input feedback individually, into collaborative documents and have the ability to discuss at virtual board meetings..This is to ensure that our own internal biases are further identified then challenged and that the project is equitably accessible and promoted to communities, geographies and cultures normally excluded from photography competitions, licensing opportunities and/or media exposure.   

During the participation phase we hope to identify and address some of the geographic, financial, language and systemic barriers facing professional, semi-professional and amateur photographers producing images related to climate change. 

During the dissemination phase, we hope the resulting Ocean Visuals collection becomes a valuable asset to communicators globally who cannot readily access or yet afford impactful ocean and climate imagery. 


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Climate Visuals on The Photo Ethics podcast.

Toby Smith, Climate Visuals Programme Lead, in conversation on the Photo Ethics Podcast.

Listen to the episode for a discussion on ethics & equity in photography, including thoughts on what makes for successful climate change imagery, how to invite and give presence to more diverse voices, and the ethical considerations that went into the Visualising Climate Change open call.

Listen to the podcast.

Climate Visuals launches Ocean Visuals at UN Oceans Conference

Climate Visuals launches Ocean Visuals at the UN Oceans Conference in Lisbon, 27 June - 1st July 2022.

The Ocean Visuals project will catalyse a new evidence-based collection of impactful ocean and coastal climate imagery - all equitably accessible to the media, non-profit and education sector in the’ Ocean Super Year’, the run up to COP27 and beyond into the UN Decade of Ocean Science.  

Toby Smith, Climate Visuals Lead, is attending the conference building momentum and seeking new engagement partners to ensure the imminent global open call reaches a wide and truly diverse audience.   Climate Visuals are also contributing expertise to round-tables and events on how climate and ocean action can be accelerated through cross-sector influencing and media engagement.

Register for updates on the Climate Visuals project, including the details of the open call, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

View and download the Ocean Visuals promotional images.

Turpin Samuel / Climate Visuals

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