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Brussels, 29 May 2006

Climate change campaign "You control climate change"

Why is the EC launching this campaign?

Combating climate change is one of the biggest challenges we face today. The fight against climate change is a priority at European level. However, in order to succeed, all sectors of society – such as industry, transport, agriculture, households – have to make a contribution.

Surveys confirm that winning the battle against climate change is important to Europe’s citizens. In fact, climate change figures among the top three concerns of European citizens regarding the environment.[1] At the same time, many people tend to feel helpless in the face of this challenge, they think that it is the duty of others - industry, politicians, etc. - to combat climate change, or they think that their actions do not have any impact.

The Commission is reaching out to citizens across the EU with this campaign to increase their awareness of climate change and demonstrate how individuals can help fight it. The aim is to show that simple everyday actions lead collectively to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Households are directly responsible for around 16% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions, which result from energy production and use. 70% of the energy used by households is spent on heating homes, 14% on heating water and 12% on lighting and electric appliances. Private car use is responsible for another 10% of EU greenhouse gas emissions. But we are also indirectly responsible for other greenhouse gas emissions since we buy products made with energy, we use planes, we generate waste, etc. We have the power to influence those emissions. The campaign gives more than 50 tips how we can reduce emissions without compromising our quality of life.

What are the campaign’s goals?

The main objectives of the climate change awareness campaign are:

  • To improve awareness and understanding of climate change amongst citizens;
  • To demonstrate that daily activities can collectively make a big difference and that each individual has a role to play in the fight against climate change; and
  • To motivate citizens to undertake these small, significant changes to their daily routine.

What is the campaign’s message?

The main message of the campaign is that simple daily choices, like turning up the air conditioning or leaving a tap to drip or a light switched on, have a direct impact on climate change. This message is translated into the slogan, “You control climate change.” The supporting line on the poster - “Turn Down. Switch Off. Recycle. Walk.” - directs people to the many things they can easily do to reduce their carbon emissions. This message gives people a sense of both empowerment and responsibility. More comprehensive information and concrete tips under these four headings can be found on the campaign web site.

How will you communicate your message?

At the launch of the campaign, giant campaign banners on public buildings will be unveiled in most EU capitals, and statues in the capitals will wear campaign T-shirts. The campaign also uses TV, outdoor and newspaper advertising and a range of electronic tools, such e-mailings, to attract attention. Comprehensive information is available on the campaign web site, which will go online on 29 May 2006 at:

The web site 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 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 will also be able to download a power-saving screen saver for their computers.

The campaign also targets secondary school pupils. The Europa Diary distributed in more than 1.1 million copies at the beginning of each school year will include a section on climate change in September 2006. It will encourage students to sign a pledge to reduce their CO2 emissions, providing them with a form to track their efforts. This material will also be available on the website.

In many cases national governments are supporting the campaign through various activities. The campaign will also be endorsed by well-known personalities such as pop stars, bands and TV weather presenters, who will perform at launch events and wear the campaign T-shirts.

While the website will be available permanently, the campaign will be carried out in three concentrated waves – in June, September and November 2006.

Who are you trying to reach with this campaign?

This campaign is a one step in a longer, continuous awareness-raising process. At this first stage, we primarily target those citizens who only sometimes make an effort for the environment.[2] By convincing them that their individual efforts make a difference, we hope for a significant shift of people from this group to the group of people who often make an effort. They then become ambassadors for the campaign as their behaviour influences others.

What was the inspiration for the campaign’s theme?

The creative idea for the campaign was simple. We want to establish that things people do everyday, like setting the thermostat in their home, have a direct impact on climate change across the planet. Therefore “you control climate change” in the same way you control the temperature of your home. What simpler way could there be to express this than the image of a household thermostat set on the planet.

What does the logo represent?

The colours in the CHANGE logo represent the range of colours of temperature – from cold blue to red hot. These colours follow the meteorological colours of temperature recognisable to people from weather news reports. The logo is a unifying creative element across the climate change campaign and represents a call for action for people to change their behaviour to help prevent harmful climate change.

Would it not be more appropriate for Member States to raise awareness of climate change?

The suggestions we make to citizens have universal value in a developed society like the EU's. We all use electricity, we all drive cars, we all use energy to heat our homes. We can and should therefore all make the small changes necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In preparation of the campaign, the Commission has carried out a study on previous campaigns done in Member States. While some Member States have been very active and awareness of climate change is high in those countries, for others this is not the case. We are therefore focusing parts of the campaign – the more expensive TV and newspaper advertising - on those countries that have not had many awareness campaigns in the past: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

Furthermore, our campaign is very much open to participation by Member States since this will maximise its effect. We have actively sought it and consulted national administrations at various points during the campaign preparation. Their suggestions have been taken on board.

Do you think this campaign will make people change their behaviour?

The creative concept (messages and design) has been reviewed in all the EU Member States, but more substantially tested in three countries - Poland, Italy and Ireland. These three countries were selected because they represent different geographic regions of the EU, and they are also countries where there have been recently only few local campaigns on climate change.

The testing was conducted online with over 500 interviews per country (all three countries have high levels of online penetration to facilitate this method of research). Four creative concepts were tested, and the one selected came out as a winner - in terms of clarity of message, in terms of people wanting to receive more information on the subject and in terms of motivating them to act against climate change.

The research showed that campaign has the potential to influence opinion, with 2 out 3 people in those countries stating that it “makes me want to find out more about what I can do to help prevent climate change.”

How much money does the campaign cost, who is implementing it and how was the contractor chosen?

The campaign has a budget of € 4.7 million. The campaign concept development and organisation has been contracted to the consortium Edelman-M&C Saatchi. This choice followed an open call for proposals published in the Official Journal in April 2005. Seven tender proposals were received from different consortiums/companies. The evaluation of the tenders was based on the criteria laid out in the technical annex, including the principle of 'best value for money'.

What are the causes and sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU and how can citizens make a difference?

Sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU in 2003:

[Graphic in PDF & Word format]

The main source of greenhouse emissions from human activities is the production of energy through the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas). This includes transport fuels (petrol, diesel, jet fuel, etc.), which are derived from fossil fuels. The burning of fossil fuels generates emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the main greenhouse gas in terms of quantity, accounting for around 80% of EU greenhouse gas emissions.

Another greenhouse gas is methane (CH4). Human-influenced sources include combustion of fossil fuels, livestock husbandry (cattle and sheep eat plants which ferment in their stomachs, so they exhale methane), rice cultivation (flooded rice cultivation triggers anaerobic - without oxygen - decomposition of organic matter in the soil and methane emissions) and waste management (again, due decomposition of organic matter). A further greenhouse gas is nitrous oxide (N2O) whose emission sources are fertilisers, fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes using nitrogen.

Lastly, there are the powerful fluorinated greenhouses gases, which, unlike the previous three gases, do not occur naturally, but have been developed by man for industrial purposes. They include hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which are used in cooling and refrigeration, including air conditioning; sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), which is used e.g. in the electronics industry; and perfluorocarbons (PFCs), which are emitted during the manufacture of aluminium and used in the electronics industry.

Households use 26% of the energy consumed in the EU, spending 70% of it on heating homes, 14% on heating water and 12% on lighting and electric appliances. Many savings are possible here. Private car use is responsible for around 10% of EU greenhouse gas emissions - each litre of burnt fuel produces some 2.5kg of CO2 emissions, so every avoided car journey benefits the environment. Recycling too results in emission savings – e.g. recycling aluminium requires ten times less energy than producing it from raw materials. To see the tips, go to the campaign's web site.
More information at:
Commission's web site on climate change:

[1] See special Eurobarometer, "The attitudes of European citizens toward the environment", conducted in November 2004 and published in April 2005, at

[2] See special Eurobarometer, "The attitudes of European citizens toward the environment", conducted in November 2004 and published in April 2005, at

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