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Brussels, 29 May 2006

Commission launches awareness raising campaign: You control climate change

"You control climate change" is the title of an awareness raising campaign that European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas will launch today in Brussels The campaign challenges individuals to make small changes to their daily routine in order to achieve significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. It offers a wealth of practical and easy-to-do tips while aiming to give people a sense of personal responsibility and empowerment and help them contribute to the fight against climate change. Households in the EU are responsible for some 16% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions, most of which comes from the production and use of energy. EU Member States will be launching the campaign at national level over the next few days.

"For the Commission action against climate change is a priority," said President Barroso. "This campaign complements and reinforces our political and legislative efforts. It makes clear to which extent we all are responsible for climate change and what individuals can and need to do to limit this threat."

"Commissioner Dimas said: "People may say that their individual behaviour does not matter; I say – on the contrary: Households in the EU count for a large part of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions, so each of us has a role to play in bringing down emissions. Our campaign will provide citizens with information about climate change and their role in combating it. Doing the right thing is not as difficult as it seems.”

The campaign

President Barroso and Commissioner Dimas today unveiled a giant poster affixed to the Commission's main building in Brussels. It shows the Earth in the universe, with a thermostat attached to it measuring its rising temperature. "You control climate change," reads the title. "Turn down. Switch off. Recycle. Walk." Such giant posters and other outdoor advertising are being unveiled in all other EU capitals.

Statues in EU capitals will be wearing T-shirts with the same message. They include Brussels' emblem Manneken Pis, a bronze fountain sculpture, statues of the composer Johan Strauss in Vienna and many others. The campaign also uses TV and newspaper advertising and a range of electronic tools to attract attention.

Comprehensive information is available on the campaign web site. Among other things, it explains climate change and its effects and gives some 50 tips how to reduce emissions, ranging from turning down the heating by 1ºC (up to 10% of the energy used for heating saved) to avoiding the stand-by mode of TV sets, stereos and computers (10% of the energy they use saved) and printing double-sided (up to 50% of paper saved). A carbon calculator calculates the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) saved by each action, and visitors can also download a power-saving screen saver for their computers.

The campaign also targets secondary school pupils, who will be encouraged to sign a pledge to reduce their CO2 emissions and track their efforts.

In many cases national governments are supporting the campaign through various activities. Austria’s Federal Minister for Environment Josef Pröll will for instance attend a workshop for pupils in the Austrian parliament, and in other member states government representatives will publicly call for action. Well-known personalities such as pop stars, bands and TV weather presenters will also participate in the campaign.

The campaign has a budget is € 4.7 million. While the website will be available permanently, the campaign will be carried out in three concentrated waves – in June, September and November 2006.

Individuals and greenhouse gas emissions

Households are directly responsible for around 16% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. Per head and year, each EU citizen is responsible for 11 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, mainly CO2. Most of the greenhouse gas emissions in the EU are caused by the production and use of energy (61%) followed by transport (21%), both of which use fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) that release emissions of CO2 when burnt.

Households use almost one third of the energy consumed in the EU, and private cars are responsible for roughly half of the transport emissions, so individuals have a direct influence on these emissions. But they can also help reduce emissions from other sectors such as industry by reducing their waste and making sure it is recycled or composted. E.g. it costs ten times less energy to recycle an aluminium can than to produce a new one. Last but not least, citizens can push for the structural changes needed to achieve a low-carbon society, for example the increased use of renewable energy sources.
Campaign web site:
Commission website on climate change:

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