Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing the world today, and cities around the globe are looking for ways to combat it. One such city is Manchester, UK, which has been running the “Manchester is my Planet Pledge Campaign” since 2005. The campaign is part of the wider “Manchester is my Planet Climate Change Programme,” and its goal is to encourage households and citizens to take action against climate change. In this case study, we’ll look at the three distinct phases of the campaign and its overall effectiveness.

 

Phase 1: The Initial Pledge Campaign (August-December 2005)

The “Manchester is my Planet Pledge Campaign” was first launched in 2005 as part of the “Manchester: Green Energy Revolution” feasibility study. The goal of the campaign was to change attitudes towards climate change and ultimately drive behavior change in energy use, which would help move the city towards a low-carbon economy.

To achieve this, the campaign set a target of getting 10,000 citizens to sign up to a climate change pledge. The campaign was led by a private communication consultancy called Creative Concern, which utilized national climate change communications guidance produced by Futerra on behalf of DEFRA. Funding of £160,000 was secured from various partners to run the campaign, which involved intensive PR and events focused on getting people to sign the pledge.

The campaign was a success, with significant media coverage generated and 10,000 citizens signing up to the pledge. The campaign also saw the development of campaign design, branding, and guidelines, as well as collateral like the Manchester is my Planet website, pledge cards, posters, and campaign resource packs. The first phase of the campaign concluded on November 1, 2005, with a major event at Manchester Town Hall.

Phase 2: The Development of Pledge Campaign (November 2005-February 2008)

Following the success of the initial pledge campaign, the “Manchester: Green Energy Revolution” initiative was formalized as the “Manchester is my Planet Programme,” and a co-ordinator and assistant were appointed at Manchester: Knowledge Capital. Additional project funding of £55,000 was secured from DEFRA’s Climate Challenge Fund to undertake climate change communications work with new and existing pledgees.

During this phase, the pledge campaign continued with lower budgets, and there was greater use of local authority partners, affinity deals with private sector businesses, and some training of pledgees in climate change communications. Surveys were conducted to assess public attitudes towards climate change, which demonstrated widespread support for local action and the acknowledgement that individuals could play a role in tackling the issue.

Phase 3: Move Towards Viral Communications (March 2008-Present)

With the end of DEFRA’s Climate Challenge funding, the campaign saw a further reduction in climate change communications activity and a move towards lower-cost, higher-output methods of increasing pledge numbers and wider communications work. This phase saw a shift from paper-based to electronic communication, with the campaign introducing a Solar Energy application, a new “pledge widget” for installation on partners’ websites, and a digital creative competition.

The pledge numbers increased from around 18,000 to 20,300 during this phase, and the campaign saw a further reduction in operating budgets and PR activity.

Evaluation

The effects of the “Manchester is my Planet Pledge Campaign” on energy-related behavior have not been evaluated. However, an estimate of energy savings based on the assumption of over 20,000 pledgees meeting their commitment suggests that around 44,600 tonnes of CO2 would be saved annually.