Public Sector: Climate Change - 'Act on CO2' in trawl for agency

Government looks for PR shop to support its campaign to encourage behaviour change.

The Government is seeking PR support for its Act on CO2 campaign to change people's behaviour in the fight against climate change.

The Act on CO2 campaign is currently handled in-house by both the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Department for Transport (DfT).

A DECC spokesman said: 'We are looking for an agency that can support our work with a strong platform focused on encouraging behaviour change.'

Launched in 2007, Act on CO2 aims to engage the public and build literacy on climate change issues.

The news comes after energy and climate secretary Ed Miliband outlined plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ahead of the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in November. Emissions will be cut by 34 per cent within 11 years, which will set the nation on track for an 80 per cent cut by 2050.

The Central Office of Information (COI) is managing the procurement process on the DECC's behalf. There is currently a shortlist of agencies but no pitches have yet taken place. The COI would not give any further details about the brief.

DECC is understood to have been carrying out an evaluation of the Act on CO2 campaign, initially launched by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), including running focus groups.

One insider said: 'They've been looking at things like what the barriers are to personal behaviour change. That's something the old version of Act on CO2 wasn't clear on - it just felt like a typical government campaign.'

Portland PR partner and former Defra director of comms Steve Morris said: 'The initial stages were about raising awareness and the idea of a carbon footprint. Now it's increasingly about behaviour change and explaining the real changes people can make in their lives. The credit crunch is also now an issue, and an important part of the brief will be about underlining that saving energy saves money.'

Environment Agency director of communications Adrian Long agreed: 'In light of all we know about climate change we have to enable people to move beyond doom and gloom and into hope. We now have to help them to do the right thing. All campaigns, especially Act on CO2, have to move beyond information - what are the things that will help and support people to make a positive change that will contribute to the lessening of climate change?'

HOW I SEE IT

Trevor Morris

Visiting professor of PR, University of Westminster

Driving behaviour change through communications alone is very difficult. There are two problems with the climate change message. The first is that people are unconvinced individual actions really make a difference to them personally or to the global situation.

The second problem is the lack of motivation. For real change to take place communication will need to be backed by the law and financial stimulus.

For example, we all know it would be good if there were fewer cars on the road - we just think it should be other people's cars rather than our own.

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