Saturday, 27 March 2010

How can we raise climate consciousness in consumers?

Luke Upchurch reports back from the Product Carbon Footprint (PCF) World Summit, Berlin, March 2010.  

Assuring consumers on climate change takes a multi-dimensional approach that encompasses responsibility from all the stake-holders.  For example, the fight against obesity - which has required consumer lifestyle changes, restrictions on junk food marketing, government legislation and international codes of conduct - was talked about on several occasions as an example of the level of action that is required. And, of course , an approach that CI has long advocated through our Junk Food Generation campaign.

But back to carbon. What became clear over the two-day summit was that there is a need to start seriously looking at how climate consciousness is raised: how GHG reduction is communicated. The PCF events continually demonstrate that there is some excellent, coordinated thinking on product life cycle analysis. But for this great work to translate into something tangible for the consumer, we need to get the great marketing minds of the world involved in the debate.

What is the PCF World Summit?
The PCF World Summit is a unique place to talk about climate change and consumption, as it provides a huge variety of opinion on what can be done to reduce the green house gas (GHG) impact of products and services.

Scientists, policy-makers, product designers, standards setters and civil society groups from across the world come together to bang heads about what works, what doesn’t , what needs attention and what needs to be avoided at all costs. These interviews give you a good flavour of the range of excellent contributions

Consumer perspective
This is the second time CI has been invited to present just how important it is to maintain trust and confidence among consumers, if the scientific and legislative initiatives are going to actually reduce GHG.

I arrived with a very clear message that it’s vital companies avoid over-playing the impact of their ‘green’ products (check out our Greenwashing awards for more on this); that marketing departments look at the larger challenge of raising climate consciousness, rather than just the eco-credentials of individual products; and that policy-makers do not get too obsessed with the power of carbon footprint labelling.

What other challenges to raising climate consciousness do you see?

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