Climate change: Your guidei to inspiring actioni

Climate change is one of the most urgent issues of our time. It is the greatest environmental challenge we face today as a global community.

Photo: Flooding in Boscastle, Cornwall, 2004 An indication of the type of event that scientists say will become more frequent in the future.

Given the enormity of the problem of climate change and its consequences – heatwaves, flooding, more frequent storms – people may find it hard to believe that they can do anything to help. But the fact is, man-made greenhouse gases contribute significantly to climate change, and action from individuals, government and businesses is vital if we are to put the brakes on it. If we all make some simple changes, our collective effort will help make a difference.

This booklet is intended to help raise awareness of climate change and encourage and inspire local action. It is also designed to act as a communications tool, showing you how to spread the message and generate discussion on what to do. You can use this booklet in conjunction with the accompanying website,, which contains further information, ideas and resources.

The weight of evidence for climate change, and the i link withigreenhouse gas emissions, most notably i carbon dioxide,iis in my view now unarguable. This is i a globaliproblem requiring a global solution, but we i can all help to makeia difference. If we reduce the amount i of energy we use andimake our energy consumption i more efficient, we will reduceithe impact that we, i as individuals, have on the environment. i
Sir David King, UK Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser

Contents 02–03 04–05 06–07 08–09 10–11 12–13 14–15 16–17 18–19 20–21 What is climate change? On the ground Getting the point across Your carbon footprint Calculating your carbon footprint Figuring out climate change Communicating climate change Do you know who you’re talking to? Other climate change resources Next steps 01

What is climate change?i

Our planet is surrounded by a blanket of gases. This blanket keeps the surface of the Earth warm and enables it to sustain life. This process is known as

‘the greenhouse effect’, so called because it works in much the same way as a garden greenhouse – by trapping heat from the sun. Here’s what happens:

The greenhouse effect 1. Energy from the sun enters our atmosphere, passing through the blanket of gases that surround the Earth. 2. As it reaches the Earth’s surface, much of the sun’s energy is absorbed by our planet’s land, water and biosphere. 3. Some of this energy is radiated back into space. 4. The rest of the energy is trapped in our atmosphere – and this is known as ‘the greenhouse effect’.


3 2


Climate change timeline
What are the major historical developments that have contributed to the climate change story? We’ve tracked a few key dates and events under three separate headings: Home, work and travel Industry and technology Geo-political

Home, work and travel
1801 Richard Trevithick invents first steampowered locomotive

1492 Da Vinci theorises about flying machines

So what’s the problem? Over the last hundred years or so, this blanket has become thicker because of the release of ‘greenhouse gases’ into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. The thicker blanket traps more energy causing the Earth’s temperature to rise. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most important of the six greenhouse gases. Carbon (in combination with other elements) makes up the basis of life on Earth. Forests, soils, oceans and the atmosphere all absorb and release CO2. The movement of carbon between these sources is known as ‘the carbon cycle’. For more information on the carbon cycle, take a look at The Carbon Cycle animation included in this pack.

The problem now is that this natural cycle can’t keep up. Through the burning of fossil fuels, we’re creating a build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere. This build-up is a major factor in increasing the greenhouse effect, which is one of the main causes of climate change. What’s more, our everyday energy use is adding to this build-up of CO2. More than 40% of CO2 emissions are the direct result of actions taken by individuals. Every time we use non-renewable electricity, drive a car or take a flight, we’re producing CO2, as all of these actions largely depend on fossil fuels. And every tonne we emit commits the world to more warming. That’s why it’s up to us all to do something about it. Now.

Photo: Traffic, UK Road transport now accounts for a fifth of the UK’s entire national carbon emissions.

1879 Invention of the electric lightbulb

1903 Wright brothers make their first flight

1885 Karl Benz builds world’s first practical automobile

1894 British firm Crompton & Co. features electric kettles in its catalogue

1908 Henry Ford improves the assembly line for automobile production


On the groundi

North East

Climate change is big news. Increasing media coverage has helped raise awareness of local and global issues and has sparked action around the country. Individuals, schools, community groups, NGOs, businesses and the government are now all involved in projects to tackle the causes of climate change. In 2006, 83 Climate Change Fund (CCF) projects were selected to receive funding from Defra to help spread the word on climate change and encourage others to get involved. Go to and click on ‘What’s being done’ to find out more about projects in your region.


The Experiential Climate Dome

Organisation: Carbon Neutral North East Using a ‘climate dome’ at a variety of locations across the North East, this project is aimed at highlighting the immediate impact of climate change. The dome includes interactive screens, games and communications materials that are easily adapted to the needs of different audiences.

West Midlands


Marches Cinema Short Film

Organisation: The Rural Media Company Costa del Marches, a short film about climate change, was created for screening throughout the rural West Midlands. Working with partners Marches Energy Agency and Flicks in the Sticks, the project team is increasing awareness and discussion of climate change issues in rural communities.

1931 Surveys of potential commercial air routes from the US to the Orient via Canada, Alaska and Russia

1952 First regular jet airline service

1913 Invention of the electric refrigerator

1939 First trans-Atlantic passenger service flown by Pan American Airways

1951 1.5 million TV sets in US

1958 More than 1million passengers fly across the Atlantic, surpassing steamship passengers for the first time

Yorkshire and The Humber East of England


Climate Change – Together we can beat it!

Organisation: Bradford Metropolitan District Council This project aims to inform, educate and raise awareness of climate change through a targeted marketing campaign. Press ads, billboards and events encourage the community to see climate change as a local issue and to take simple steps to help.


On target for carbon neutral football

Organisation: Ipswich Borough Council Targeting Ipswich Town Football Club’s strong fan base, this project communicates climate change through press, radio and football programmes. Fans were encouraged to reduce their carbon emissions, and the campaign culminated in the UK’s first carbon neutral football match. All England Project: Asian Voice newspaper

Organisation: Cambridge Carbon Footprint Asian Voice, a widely read and well-trusted newspaper, agreed to include a regular column on climate change. Written by a member of Cambridge Carbon Footprint, the column helps raise awareness of environmental issues among the UK’s Asian community. Other regional CCF projects. There are another 22 projects that cover the whole of England.

1971 Boeing 747 makes its first commercial flight from New York to London

2006 UK Government announces ambition to make all new homes ‘zero-carbon’ by 2016

1974 First domestic food processor introduced in the UK

1997 EU deregulation of the air industry in Europe; low-cost air travel begins

2004 Carbon emissions from housing account for 27% of all the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions


Getting thei point acrossi
Because everyone needs to take responsibility for climate change, everyone needs to know about it. That’s why it’s important for people not only to think about it, but to get involved. In 2006, Defra ran a competition to find nine Climate Change Champions aged 10 to 18 from across England. The Champions have been busy tackling climate change and will be in office until autumn 2007. The Champions are making a big difference. Find out more about what Aazim, Carri, David, Jordan, Lucy, Sarah, Sofia, Stephanie and Zoheb are doing at You can see short films and read their blogs and news articles about how they are spreading the word about climate change.

Photo: Gurschen Glacier, Switzerland The Champions saw first hand the effects of climate change on this Swiss glacier. They are pictured here marking the position of the glacier’s lower limit during the year they were born.

Industry and technology
1821 First electric motor 1882 The Electric Lighting Act allows setting up of supply systems by persons, companies or local authorities

c. 1800 Beginning of 04/05industrial revolution

1806 Invention of the internal combustion engine

1879 Karl Benz granted a patent for his internal two-stroke gas engine

We are the Champions!

Aazim Ihsan London

Carri Swann East Midlands

Sarah Crudgington East of England

David Saddington North East

Stephanie Lynch North West

Jordan Stephens South East

Sofia Selska West Midlands

Lucy Stansfield South West

Zoheb Khalil Yorkshire and The Humber

1884 Invention of the steam turbine

1896 Svante Arrhenius proposes a link between fossil fuels, carbon dioxide and global warming

1892 Rudolf Diesel develops the Carnot heat engine, a motor burning powdered coal dust

1924 Based on 1920 coal use, prediction made that industrial activity will double atmospheric carbon dioxide in 500 years


Your carboni footprinti
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are caused in part as a direct result of our everyday activities. The following all result in CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere: • • • burning fuel to heat our homes using electricity to power our lights and appliances using fuel to power our vehicles. The total amount of CO2 generated by these activities is normally measured in tonnes. On average, each household in the UK directly produces about 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. We also contribute CO2 to the atmosphere indirectly through the manufacture, distribution and disposal of the products we consume, including food.

1951 Britain’s first commercial computer, the Lyons Electronic Office, is built

1938 UK National Grid becomes 04/05 integrated

1950s Aerospace industry develops

1969 Astronauts first walk on the moon

of the average household’s carbon footprint comes from personal transport, i.e. cars, motorbikes and flights.*


The CO2 produced as a result of the actions of an individual, a household or an organisation is sometimes referred to as a ‘carbon footprint’. Our footprints add up. The UK as a whole emitted 554 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2005. If we all tread lightly and minimise our footprints, our collective impact on the environment will be significantly reduced. In this way, we can all contribute to tackling climate change.

of the average household’s carbon footprint comes from home heating, lighting and appliance use.*


The CO2 emissions from the home come from:

water and space heating, and lighting

use of appliances.
* These are approximate values based on the underlying data used in the Act on CO2 calculator, see page 10.

1980s Rapid industrial development begins in China – pace set for next 20 years unprecedented in human history

2001 Nearly two-thirds of people in the UK (33 million people) now use the internet

1991 World Wide Web released to the public


Calculating youriii carbonifootprinti
You can now work out how big your carbon footprint is by using the Government’s Act On CO2 calculator at The calculator focuses on the three most significant areas where our actions lead directly to CO2 emissions: • • • household heating, hot water and lighting appliances and gadgets personal transport.

Close your curtains at night It stops heat escaping through your windows.

Turn your heating thermostat down by 1ºC It could save you 10% in heating bills. Generally, a comfortable living room temperature is around 21ºC, while the bedroom should be comfortable at 16–18ºC.

The calculator will ask you for information about each of these areas and will then work out your individual and/or household footprints. It also gives you a personalised action plan to help you reduce your carbon footprint, which you can then save and return to later.

Once you’ve calculated your own carbon dioxide footprint, you can work out ways to reduce it. It’s easier than you think. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Turn gadg Don’t leave mobile pho and games when not in

1950s Dramatic increase in carbon dioxide emissions

1827 Jean Baptiste Fourier proposes the existence of an earthwarming atmospheric effect. The term ‘greenhouse effect’ 04/05is first used

1900 World population stands at 1.6 billion

Only fill the kettle with the water you need You waste energy if you boil more water than necessary.

Wash laundry at 30ºC Selecting the 30ºC cycle cuts electricity use by up to 40%, compared with washing clothes at higher temperatures.

Buy energy-efficient appliances Look for fridges, freezers and washing machines with the Energy Saving Recommended logo and save money and energy.

Insulate your loft You can typically save 0.4 tonnes of CO2 a year, and nearly 10% on your heating bill.

Install Energy Saving Recommended lightbulbs They last between 8 and 15 times longer than traditional bulbs. If you can, try alternatives to the car for short journeys Walking, cycling or using public transport will help reduce your carbon footprint.

gets off e gadgets – such as TVs, one chargers, computers s consoles – on standby in use.

1975 World population reaches 4 billion

1984 The Alliance of Small Island States (many of whom fear they will disappear as sea levels rise) demand a 20% emissions cut by 2005

1957 Start of long-term carbon dioxide monitoring by US scientist David Keeling; year-on-year rise seen

1979 World Climate Conference recognises the importance of climate change


Figuring outi climate changei
When you are making a communication plan, one of the first steps is to understand what people think about climate change now. Defra has been tracking public awareness and understanding of climate change. To find out more, go to and look at ‘What do people think?’ in the ‘Communicate climate change’ section. Here are some of the latest statistics: of adults said that they are already taking some action. Almost of young people study climate change at school, and of young people feel that they should spend more time learning about it. of young people believe that the world’s climate is changing.

of adults think that the Government can influence climate change.

of adults think that climate change is caused by human behaviour.

1987 Discovery of link between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and temperature, going back more than 100,000 years

1990 IPCC’s first report states that the average world temperature has increased by 0.5°C since the beginning of the 20th century 1988 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is set up by the World Meteorological Organization

1985 First major international conference on the greenhouse effect is 04/05 Austria held in

of adults have heard of climate change. young people say that they could use less energy at home. of adults say that they could help by driving less or not driving at all. of adults and thought so in March 2006. of adults think that recent warmer weather is part of climate change. Just

of young people think that they can personally have a big influence on climate change.

of young people think that the world is affected by climate change; a third think that it will become affected in the next two decades.

Source: Adult research conducted by ICM for Defra among a representative sample of approximately 3,100 adults in the UK. Four waves were conducted six-monthly from March 2005. All figures are taken from the March 2007 research unless otherwise stated. Research on young people conducted by LVQ among a representative sample of approximately 750 11–17-year-olds in England in May 2006.

1997 Kyoto Protocol agrees to binding cuts in emissions for industrialised nations to be met between 2008 and 2012

1990 World population reaches 5.26 billion

1992 Climate Change Convention signed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, by 154 nations, sets initial emissions reduction targets


Communicatingi climate changei
Let’s talk about it To encourage people to make a difference you need to get the message out. Think about what your audience needs to know and how they might be able to change their actions in simple ways that will help the environment. The clearer you can be about what you want them to do, the better. You know your audience best – what are they most likely to respond to? Creating a communications plan Consider the following ideas when planning your communications: Messages Create some simple messages. Would they work better in a press release, in a report or on a website? Tone of voice If you’re speaking in public, it helps to use one style of language; if you’re writing a press release, it helps to use another. Partners If you can link your message to another issue, you might be able to share resources. Timing Your message might be effective, but if your email gets delivered when everyone’s too busy with other things, it won’t be read.

1998 Hottest year on record in the hottest decade on record

2003 Temperature in the UK exceeds 37.8°C (100°F) for the first time. Over 2,000 deaths that summer are attributed to the hot weather


2003 Third hottest year on record globally. Hottest summer for at least 500 years in Europe, where 35,000 deaths are attributed to the heatwave; direct link made with climate change

Budget You’ve got a clear idea of how much money you’ve got, and what it will buy. There are ways of getting information into newspapers and magazines for free. For example, you could use a press release or an article instead of an ad. Ask the audience what they think Did it work for them? Did they understand what you were trying to say? Did it make a difference? All of this information is valuable for your next campaign. Choosing the right channel There are thousands of different ways to communicate your message, but it’s important to use those that will be most effective for you.

Here are some examples: • Traditional media – newspapers, radio stations, TV stations, magazines • Events – speeches, conferences, forums • New media – websites, email, text messages • Partnership marketing – promotions, sponsorship, special offers • Internal communications – reports, brochures, newsletters • Direct marketing – direct mail, cold calling

2005 Kyoto Protocol comes into force

2005 G8 Gleneagles Summit; climate change one of two main issues addressed

2005 Hurricane Katrina devastates New Orleans; researchers link record US hurricane season and melting sea ice and Siberian permafrost to climate change


Do you know whoi you’re talking to?i
If you are going to communicate some of the issues surrounding climate change and encourage people to adapt some of their behaviours, you need to find out: • • • who they are (socio-demographics) what they do (current behaviours) how they think and feel (their attitudes). If you’d like to find out more about what people in the UK think about climate change, to help you understand how to target them, go to the ‘Communicating climate change’ section at Here are some examples of how different people might feel about being more environmentally friendly:

By thinking about your audience in this way, you will often find that you have more information about them than you thought. It helps you to work out what people will be prepared to do, as well as the most effective messages and communication channels. For example, Defra is undertaking research to develop an environmental segmentation model informed by people’s attitudes, values and current environmental behaviours.

Waste not, want not –i it’s important to live lifei thinking about whati you’re doing and using.i

2006 The Stern Review is published. It’s the first report of its kind into the economic impact of the climate change. The costs of inaction far outweigh the costs of action now

2007 IPCC confirms that there is a greater than 90% chance that global warming over the last 50 years is due to man


2006 Al Gore, former US Vice President, wins an Oscar for the film An Inconvenient Truth, which issues a warning about climate change

You should do everythingi you caniwithin thei constraints of modern living.i

I do my bit and that’s enough.i I don’t see others doingi much more than me.i

I think it’s importantii that I doieverythingi I can to helpi the environment.i

I know I should do more, but at thei moment I can’t…and I don’t do muchi to cause damage anyway. I’ll do moreii when I have more money or time.i

If it saves me money,i then it’siworth doing buti otherwiseiI can’tireallyi do much.i

To be honest, I don’ti really thinkiaboutii the environment.i

2007 IPCC reports that the planet has warmed 0.74°C since the beginning of the 20th century

2007 For the first time, half of the world’s population lives in cities

2007 Draft Climate Change Bill published by the UK Government


Other climate changei resourcesi

Partly as a result of unpredictable and unseasonal weather, the issue of climate change has become a major focus for public attention. Other factors involved in this increased awareness include the following: • Scientific reports have been published, based on the work of some of the world’s top scientists. These show that the problem is real and that man is largely responsible. Politicians from all of the UK’s main parties have broadly agreed that climate change poses a serious threat and that action needs to be taken now.

Civil society – including NGOs (non-governmental organisations) – have lobbied government and have delivered clear messages to the public in order to address climate change.

The media has also played a vital role in bringing climate change to the forefront of people’s minds. The issue has gained such prominence that newspapers are now running feature articles almost every day – covering the science, economics, geo-politics and the impact on the weather. Major TV news reports and documentaries have also been aired, and related programmes (such as home improvement shows) are also focusing on environmental issues.

Although these media channels provide an excellent range of stories about climate change, it’s the internet that’s providing the most diverse range of messages. It’s important to look at a range of sources when conducting your own research, and you should make sure that your information is as up-to-date and reliable as possible. Government websites are a good starting point. For a general overview of climate change – particularly how to communicate and how to get involved – visit

At, you can find more practical steps you can take to tackle climate change. These fall under: • • • • • • • • • • Greener living: a quick guide Greener home Greener garden Waste and recycling Energy and water saving Greener shopping Greener travel Greener work, school and community Greener food and drink Greener life events

You can find out more about climate change and what’s being done here in the UK and internationally to tackle the problem at: climatechange More information is available from the Department for Transport at: Other useful sites include: hadleycentre


Next stepsi

Use this checklist as a quick reference guide for your communications and the actions you want to take. Plan your communications Decide who you want your communications to target Find out what they currently think about climate change Define what it is you want them to do Decide the voice and channel your communications will use Check the timings and budgets you need for your communications Take local action Whether you’re working on communications or just keen to make a difference, try to set an example for others using the advice on pages 10/11 Find out about climate change projects and other activities that are happening near you Know your CO2 Find out what your carbon footprint is at Set yourself a goal to reduce your carbon footprint over the next six months

Acknowledgements: Angela Hampton/Ecoscene TopFoto/National Champions’ photos Allan Staley/Alex Beaton The climate change communications initiative is led by Defra in partnership with the Energy Saving Trust, the Carbon Trust, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Environment Agency, the UK Climate Impacts Programme and the Department for Transport. This paper is made from 100% post-consumer waste. ©Crown Copyright 2007 Issued June 2007