How are you coping in the current economic climate? Tim Bowen is here to help with a shower of collocations.

The millions of people who shiver as Europe experiences a particularly cold winter might be forgiven for thinking that climate change is happening in reverse. Even areas that normally enjoy a mild or temperate climate sometimes experience, albeit briefly, the kind of harsh climate that exists in less hospitable regions of the globe.

Away from the world of temperature and weather conditions, climate can also be used to refer to people’s attitudes at a particular time. Such references can be in a particular area, such as the business, economic, financial, moral or political climate, as in ‘When there is a difficult economic climate, small firms find it increasingly difficult to raise capital’, or they may refer to the present time, as in the current, present or prevailing climate.

A climate may be conducive or favourable, as in ‘The prevailing business climate is not conducive to start-up enterprises of this type’ and can be created or fostered, as in ‘The government aims to foster a climate in which small businesses can prosper’.

A number of nouns with negative connotations such as distrust, fear, hostility, hysteria, suspicion and uncertainty can follow climate in phrases like a climate of fear and a climate of suspicion, as in ‘The government’s policies are simply contributing to the climate of distrust that prevails in the country’.

In a similar way, climate can be followed by positive nouns such as trust, openness and tolerance, as in ‘We aim to create a climate of tolerance in which people can coexist without fear or prejudice’.