As part of the ministry’s preparatory activities under the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) announced the launching of a Climate Change Awareness Campaign and a National Photography Competition in Surat, Gujarat, on 4 and 5 February 2022. I firmly believe India should be more creative and innovative in this modern era while proposing such events.
The campaign and the competition will be organised to raise concerns regarding climate change, advance climate action in cities and inform the participants of alternative approaches. Bye-bye campaigns will be led by Municipal Commissioners, top heads of urban local bodies, and Smart City CEOs to bring young minds’ attention towards the challenges and solutions arising from Urban Climate Change and Sustainable solutions across their municipalities. During the campaign, city officials will create awareness in academic institutions on Climate Change and Sustainable actions. They will also carry out a social media awareness campaign. The city leaders, such as Mayors, Municipal Commissioners and Smart City CEOs, will talk about climate actions which can be implemented in their city. The issues which will be discussed include plantation drives, cleaning of water bodies, promoting the adoption of solar energy, recycling of e-waste, or other such initiatives that encourage climate adaptation or mitigation actions.
But doesn’t modern India deserve more imaginative and novel campaigns than traditional ways of creating climate change awareness?
Concerns about climate change have morphed into a full-fledged social movement, encouraging people, especially young people, to take action to tackle this problem. However, not everyone knows this threat’s severity and the measures to reduce climate change. Fortunately, many campaigns exist today to inform, increase awareness, and shape public perception of issues and solutions creatively and innovatively.
Below are five of the most ingenious and ground-breaking climate change awareness campaigns the world has seen.
1. Climate Name Change campaign – 350 Action
The 2013 350 Action campaign named “Climate Name Change,” created by the advertising agency Barton F. Graf 9000, is among the most creative and innovative campaigns. It aimed at raising awareness of the relationship between climate change and severe weather conditions. 350 Action creatively did this by preparing a video and a petition. They asked the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to replace the names of tropical storms with the names of the US government climate change deniers.
Therefore, instead of assigning common names to hurricanes, the campaign suggested using names such as Senator Marco Rubio, House Speaker John Boehner, and Representative Michele Bachmann. Information and resources related to climate change, voting records of climate change deniers, and opportunities to get engaged, including the petition to the WMO, could also be found on their website. The campaign was able to collect 50,000 signatures in just three days. Following the launch, Google searches for climate change deniers more than doubled. Furthermore, targeted politicians saw a 10% decline in their approval ratings. This campaign was also named the number 1 climate change campaign in history by the Guardian in 2013.
2. ‘Stop climate change before it changes you’ – WWF
Designed by the Germaine ad agency, this World Wide Fund (WWF) for nature campaign used a print advertisement to create awareness about climate change. It emphasised the need to halt climate change before it alters human beings. The ad creatively depicted a man with a fish head as an example of reverse evolution that could occur if climate change and glacier melting continue at their current worrying rates. The campaign was effective even if people knew that they would not mutate into fish-like people if they didn’t help stop climate change because they employed a technique known as “The Extreme Consequence Template.” This technique aimed to show an extreme outcome to highlight the significance of the message they were attempting to communicate. Another reason for its effectiveness was that it instilled fear in individuals. The concept of changing into the fish-headed person in the advertisement might frighten some people, who were then driven to avoid it by preventing climate change.
3. One Plastic Free Day campaign – A Plastic Planet
The One Plastic Free Day campaign, held in 2019 on the same day as World Environment Day, aimed to reduce the use of indestructible plastics, which significantly impacts climate change. The campaign was both creative and innovative because it encouraged people to minimise the use of plastics and share it on social media to create awareness. During this campaign, people were asked to take a picture of an object they wished to avoid using plastic for, such as drink bottles, and then post it on social media with the hashtag #OnePlasticFreeDay. It was widely shared on social media, reaching millions of people worldwide.
4. “Don’t choose extinction” – UNDP
The 2021 “Don’t choose extinction” campaign by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) aimed at creating awareness of fossil fuel subsidies and how they are a barrier to solving climate change while also creating inequality by benefiting the wealthy. It spread this message creatively by releasing a short film in which a dinosaur bursts into the renowned General Assembly Hall at UN Headquarters in New York and delivers a warning. The dinosaur argument was made based on its own experience with mass extinction. The film’s end tells the audience that “it is time humans stop making excuses and start making changes” to address the climate change crisis. It is the first film produced inside the General Assembly Hall using computer-generated imagery (CGI). Global celebrities also voiced the dinosaur in a variety of languages.
5. “The world is looking to you Cop26” – Iris
The 2021 “The world is looking to you Cop26” by Iris creatively spread the climate change message by targeting global leaders and delegates. It helped to remind those attending the Cop26 that it is their responsibility to grab the enormous opportunity given by the event and take immediate action to avert climate calamity. The campaign used powerful photos featuring real people on the frontlines of the global climate catastrophe. The photographs were captured by world-renowned photographers and had a captivating impact by revealing the scary reality of climate change, making them difficult to ignore. Each image served as a gateway to the heart-breaking experiences of those affected by existing weather extremes that have become worse and more frequent because of climate change. In some instances, the photographs were accompanied by a QR code that directed the viewers to a website explaining the climate narrative behind the pictures used in the campaign.
Hey MoHUA, did you get inspired enough to build something more creative and innovative next time?