Climate campaign 'could be huge'

Climate change PR industry and campaigners back Ed Miliband's call for global mobilisation.

A former Make Poverty History press chief has said Environment Secretary Ed Miliband's proposed global campaign against climate change 'could be huge' and has urged the Government to sign up major celebrities to the cause.

Miliband this week called for a 'popular mobilisation' in the style of 2005's Make Poverty History to press political leaders into sealing a treaty on tackling climate change.

Jane Moyo, previously a senior media handler for Make Poverty History and now head of media relations at Action Aid, commended Miliband's idea.

She said: 'The fight against climate change still seems fairly muted, but it could be huge. But Make Poverty History had big personalities such as Bono and Bob Geldof, and George Clooney in the US: massive A-list stars. You have that with climate change - there's Leonardo Di Caprio - but it's not in the same league at the moment.'

Moyo said the existing campaign, called Stop Climate Chaos, had failed to make a significant impact on public opinion. 'It doesn't seem to be hitting the zeitgeist in the same way as Make Poverty History,' she said.

BT Retail director of comms and social responsibility Zoe Arden said PR would play a key role in a successful campaign. 'PR people have the power and skills to explain the issues,' she said.

Ed Gillespie, co-founder of environmentalist expert Fut-erra Sustainability, said a global campaign was 'definitely needed', but called on the Government to improve its own communications on the issue.

'The Government's messaging is hypocritical, contradictory and inconsistent,' said Gillespie. 'What politicians are realising is it's difficult to find the political space to be radical. We need to give politicians the confidence that we will not kick them out if they're making difficult decisions.'

Various government bodies currently feeding into the debate include the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Carbon Trust.

DECC director of comms Paddy Feeny defended the Government's messaging on climate change, saying there was no reason why a variety of bodies would lead to confusion 'as long as the core message is clear, which it is'. He added: 'They are different channels for different audiences - that's all.'

HOW I SEE IT

ANDY ATKINS, Executive director, Friends of the Earth

'Progressive politicians know they can achieve more if the public is behind them. Indeed, Environment Secretary David Miliband used intense public pressure when the Government first agreed to climate legislation in 2007.'

ED GILLESPIE, Co-founder, Futerra Sustainability

'Make Poverty History took ten years and did not require anyone to do anything. The current campaigns are not unified. The power of Make Poverty History was big because it brought in so many players. What we are seeing is a frenzy of small campaigns. No-one is aligning.'

540 - Member organisations of 2005's Make Poverty History

80 - Member organisations of Stop Climate Chaos

5 - Positive national news articles about Stansted protesters*

14 - Negative articles about the Stansted protesters*

12 - Negative articles about BAA*

*Date: 9 December. Source: TNS Global.

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