Our top 10 climate action campaigns of 2019

Whether you have been communicating climate action for years or you’re newly engaged in tackling the crisis, there’s no doubt 2019 is the year the world woke up to climate change.

Extreme weather events and record-breaking summer heat became our new normal. Dire scientific reports warned of our fast-shrinking opportunity to act. And we witnessed monumental numbers of outraged civilians take to the streets in protest against government inaction.

Responding to worldwide movements led by Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, many countries raised the alarm by declaring climate emergencies in 2019. But as we leave behind a disappointing COP25 in Madrid and enter the last 12 months policymakers have to cut carbon emissions and keep global temperatures to safe levels, the impetus for collaborative and radical action is more crucial than at any point in human history.

Join us as we look back at Greenhouse PR’s climate action highlights from 2019. From revealing the mass consensus around strong climate policy to a pivotal student climate strike and divesting the UK Parliament from coal, Greenhouse PR is proud to be part of these change-making campaigns. They show what we can all achieve if we work together for positive change in 2020.

How planting trees can change the world

Reforesting is one of the most effective tools we have to capture CO2 and combat climate breakdown. But until July this year, there was no qualitative study into the Earth’s tree carrying capacity. That’s when Greenhouse PR launched a game-changing global campaign for Crowther Lab, which revealed that an area the size of the US is available for forest cover – and could capture two thirds of our atmosphere’s CO2.

We secured over 700 pieces of coverage in more than 100 countries, including BBC News, The Guardian (front page) and The New York Times, and we went viral on social media with the #TreePotential hashtag, achieving a global reach of 4.8 million. Since then, country-wide reforestation efforts in Ethiopia and India have referenced Crowther Lab’s data and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to plant 2 billion trees over the next 10 years in Canada.

UK’s largest lobby on climate change

The Climate Coalition, representing more than 130 organisations, organised the biggest climate lobby the UK has ever seen. Over 16,000 people from every corner of Britain descended on Westminster in June to tell their MPs that “The Time Is NOW” for climate action.

More than 200 MPs came out to meet their constituents as a direct result of widespread media coverage: the campaign achieved over 500 articles with an estimated online and print reach of more than 960 million.

We helped create a new narrative which empowers people to demand climate action from their politicians. Without this demand, politicians would be far less likely to take the steps needed for the UK to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

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Striking for urgent climate action

As part of the global school strikes movement, Greenhouse PR mobilised support for the UK Student Climate Network, and helped boost attendance at the biggest ever climate strike in history.

In the run up to the main event on September 20th, we called on people to stand in solidarity with the students, organising a roadshow of media events in major cities across the UK. In a one-week countdown to the strike, we invited national media for face-to-face briefings with the students, and on the day, ran a busy media hub. The strike was headline news on most UK broadcast channels and national papers’ front pages, including Bloomberg, The Times, BBC, Sky News, Channel 4 and Al Jazeera.

More than 350,000 people in the UK took to the streets on September 20th, creating unprecedented media interest in climate protests and showing the huge public support for urgent climate action that exists around the world.

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Galvanising divestment in parliament 

A total of 300 MPs – close to a legislative majority – signed a pledge to hold a Parliamentary debate in the House of Commons and support the Divest Parliament, campaign, which seeks to encourage trustees of the £700 million Parliamentary Pension Fund to end investments in fossil fuel companies.

As a result of media coverage in Bloomberg, Reuters, The Times and Evening Standard, Pension Fund trustee Richard Graham MP announced plans to consider investing in schemes “which take a greener approach”. At a time of political polarisation, the 300 MPs and 30 former MPs from across the political spectrum came together to make a clear statement, that it is “unacceptable for political leaders to be investing in fossil fuels at a time of climate breakdown”.

Powering an EV future

In March, GRIDSERVE, announced plans to build 100 electric vehicle forecourts across the UK, to make EV infrastructure as accessible as petrol stations.

Association with high-profile technology partners such as Chinese EV company NIO – and enquiries from well-known retailers including Costa – helped to amplify our campaign, which achieved over 150 pieces of coverage in The Times, Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail and more.

With a combined media reach of over 1 billion, the results demonstrated a clear appetite for new infrastructure to help drivers overcome their ‘charging anxiety’, one of the barriers to widespread EV adoption.

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Climate action in the ballot box

In October, we worked with ClientEarth to launch its 2019 Climate Snapshot report, which revealed how climate policy would affect the upcoming UK general election results. The campaign highlighted the urgency of the climate crisis, and proved the election wasn’t all about Brexit; over half of all voters (and three quarters of young voters) said climate policy would influence their ballot box decision.

Securing over 250 pieces of coverage, including Mail Online, The Guardian, Evening Standard, PA, ITV and The Independent, the campaign caught the eye of influential people in the sector including Emma Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, who referenced the story in her RSA President’s Lecture speech the following week.

Empowering investors to tackle climate change

We launched two major global reports for UK-based think tank InfluenceMap this year, exposing the role of the oil lobby in fuelling the climate crisis and revealing who is leading – and lagging behind – on climate action in the asset management sector.

Following our global media coverage, both InfluenceMap reports have been quoted by influential figures including Bernie Sanders and George Monbiot, and key stakeholders such as Sir Christopher Hohn, CEO of the activist hedge fund TCI, have used the reports to lobby companies that are failing to disclose their CO2 emissions.

Creating a buzz around pet food

In January, we launched Yora, the world’s most sustainable dog food, made from insect larvae.

We partnered with TV vet Rory Cowlam to reach new audiences and generated debate on agenda-setting national news programmes around pet food. Studies suggest that pets consume 20% of the world’s meat and fish, with a dog’s carbon footprint said to be twice that of a 4×4 car. Trail-blazing companies like Yora are raising awareness around – and transforming – this carbon-heavy market.

Widespread media coverage with a circulation of 2.8 billion – including BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Guardian, Reuters, Mirror, Evening Standard and VICE – resulted in a surge of traffic to the Yora website.

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Change your bank, change the world

Since 2016, the top five UK banks have pumped nearly £150 billion into fossil fuels. We used this shocking statistic to motivate consumers to use their money as a force for good and switch to Triodos Bank, which only funds organisations creating positive social and environmental change.

Greenhouse launched the ‘Change your bank, change the world’ campaign in September during a period of heightened environmental awareness when many people were actively looking for ways to make a positive difference. We secured lead ambassador Lily Cole who shared her own motivations for switching to a Triodos current account and secured high profile coverage including The Guardian, BBC Radio 4 Money Box, The Independent and Refinery29.

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Insuring coal no more

Unfriend Coal is accelerating the global phase-out of coal by persuading insurers to end cover for mines and power plants, divesting billions from the industry.

This year, the number of major insurers restricting cover on coal has more than doubled from 7 to 18, and 35 insurers have now divested coal from over a third of the industry’s global assets – totalling $8.9 trillion of investments. Soon coal will be uninsurable, and a safer future will be in sight for everyone.

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Greenhouse PR was established 13 years ago to use the power of communications to drive positive social and environmental change. Since day one we have worked exclusively with the radical pioneers that are leading the way in creating change, disrupting markets and transforming sectors as diverse as food, finance and fashion. We help our clients communicate and scale the ideas, products and services needed to create real impact – and a better future for everyone.

Governments, civil society and businesses must work together to drive positive change in 2020. We’re looking to work with organisations like yours that are challenging global inaction on climate change with pioneering solutions. If you’ve got a great story and need our help to tell it in 2020, get in touch with the Greenhouse team on 0117 214 1250 or email info@greenhousepr.co.uk.

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