Marketers urged to look on the sunny side of climate change

The government's "miserable, gloomy and bleak" climate change campaigns are failing to instigate behavioural change, according to a new report from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA).

The study, which was undertaken by the British Market Research Bureau, found that while public awareness of climate change has increased this has not translated into significant behavioural change or the adoption of lower carbon lifestyles.

It warned that government attempts to instigate this behavioural change would not work "unless they stop being miserable, gloomy and bleak, and instead start encouraging more people to take positive action on climate change".

"The report shows it's not enough to simply make people aware of climate change issues," said NESTA chief executive, Jonathan Kestenbaum. "To have a mass impact campaigns must engage people in a compelling way and persuade them to change their behaviour."

To achieve this, the report recommends that the government harness commercial-style advertising and marketing techniques that take a more upbeat approach to promoting green products and services, citing Honda's recent "Hate Something – Change Something" ad for its lower carbon engines as an example of this strategy.

In particular, the report claims that campaigns to promote green behaviour or products should aim to emphasise benefits associated with cutting carbon emissions and seek to establish taking action to tackle climate change as " normal" activity. It also recommends that advertisers should make campaigns as personally relevant as possible and should relate to an individual's environment, not the vague concept of the environment as a whole.

The study comes in the same week as a new Ipsos MORI poll for the Observer revealed that many consumers still have considerable doubt over the accuracy of climate change predictions.

The poll of over 1,000 adults found that while three quarters of respondents claimed to be concerned about climate change, 60 per cent agreed "many scientific experts still question if humans are contributing to climate change" , and four out of 10 said they sometimes think the threat posed by climate change has been exaggerated.

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