Challenge: In spite of storied history and impressive track record of delivering independent and scientifically significant reports since 2005, the general public’s attitude of the importance of ‘climate change’ and ‘climate science’ has been on the decline in Australia in recent years. This, coupled with a rise in the politicisation of the issue during an election year, led to a situation where The Climate Institute was having an increasingly difficult time mobilising stakeholder groups and convincing the general public of the importance of taking small actions to achieve a more sustainable and less-carbon dependent economy. And because the organisation is so focused on producing world-class scientific research, they weren’t in a position to be able to allocate resources to ensure their communications efforts were adapting to an ever-increasing social and digital communications model.
Strategy: Ogilvy Public Relations has supported The Climate Institute through a strategic communications partnership for the past several years, offering the Institute an integrated team that spans their media, policy, communications, and events activities. In 2013, Ogilvy recognised that one of the critical areas where The Climate Institute was most vulnerable was across its digital and social media efforts. To ensure that a series of upcoming Institute report releases and high-profile events were strongly attended, by both the general public as well as relevant climate stakeholders across government and industry, the Social@Ogilvy team embarked on a two-pronged strategy to better understand the social listening related to climate change in Australia (and how to best position The Climate Institute to participate in those conversations) and to develop a targeted influencer strategy that could greatly amplify the Institute’s thought leadership and positioning.
Results: Across a four month period (between mid-August 2013 and mid-January 2014), the Social@Ogilvy team worked closely with The Climate Institute to develop and execute two separate live events, that were also amplified in real-time via social media. The first event, dubbed “Climate of the Nation”, served as a mini-debate to take advantage of the impeding election and featured renown climatologist Dr. Graeme Pearman and researcher John Scales on 29th of August. The event was moderated by The Climate Institute CEO John Connor. In addition to the max capacity 85 attendees that joined in person (media, bloggers, government policy makers), the event was live-broadcast on twitter where questions were sourced from the platform and photos were shared in real-time. The #ClimateNation hashtag was used approximately 360 times during the 60-minute event and reached approximately 415,203 Australian twitter users (approximately 20% of the entire Australian twitter community at the time). The event’s social footprint was so successful that morning that the hastag was trending across Sydney for the majority of the morning. In addition to the Climate of the Nation Event, social@ogilvy also partnered with the Institute to run another event focusing on sustainable investment in the Australian Superannuation sector. During that 60 minute session, the Institute reached over 312,000 twitter users through 182 mentions of the #ClimateSmartSuper hashtag. Overall, twitter has proved to be an effective channel for The Climate Institute in reaching and engaging new audiences. On top of simple growth of the account, there has been a positive shift in sentiment and engagement as well. During the four month period, the twitter channel grew approximately 19.5% from 6775 ‘followers’ in August to 8093 in February.
Yesterday morning Ogilvy PR Australia hosted The Climate Institute’s (TCI) “Climate Smart Super” panel discussion for the launch of their latest report. Media and guests arrived sharply at 9:30am to listen to an esteem panel including;
- John Conner, CEO, The Climate Institute
- Dr John Hewson, Chair, Asset Owners Disclosure Project & former leader of the Liberal Party of Australia
- Blair Palese, CEO, 350.org Australia
- Bill Hartnett, Head of Sustainability, Local Government Super
The new report launched yesterday looks at smart long-term investment. TCI challenges Australians to rethink our superannuation choice and ask where and how our funds are being invested, by highlighting both the financial and environmental risks involved in current superannuation investment.
Currently, 55% of superannuation funds are invested in carbon exhaustive assets. In stark contrast a mere 2% were recorded to be a low-carbon initiative investment. Bill Hartnett raised the point, that investing in carbon-intensive projects only offers limited short-term returns, and superannuation funds should be focusing on long term returns on investment. He attributed this prevalent investment behaviour to the dominant existing investor mindset that ‘Today is yesterday’s long term’. This has to change.
With over $1.6 trillion of funds to invest annually, there is an opportunity to divest funds from a fossil fuel based economy to low-carbon alternatives, which in turn will be more rewarding financially and environmentally.
Dr Hewson spoke about the role boards and directors play in organising portfolios which were fundamentally risky, and our role and responsibility as investors to question our fund managers’ investment decisions. Blair Palese acknowledged that Australia is better represented in the Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) rankings than most, and even more encouraging, Australians are now actively shifting their funds to safer investments. However, the majority of our fund managers’ investment decisions are still influenced by short term thinking.
The TCI report does not seek to play the role of financial adviser, but rather, as stated by John Conner, to encourage “active and engaged citizens, who make climate responsible decisions”, to vocalise their beliefs. To find out more about how to be climate smart in your superannuation investments you can read the full report here.
The event will feature leading luminaries in the areas of climate science, behavioral change, public opinion and communications.
John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute will act as moderator. Sitting on the panel will be Australian Academy of Science fellow and internally renowned climate change scientist, Dr. Graeme Pearman, Founder and Managing Director of JWS Research, John Scales and Director of digital and innovation at Essential Media, Peter Lewis.
Date: Thursday 29th August 1030 – 1200 (morning tea served from 1000)
Location: 72 Christie Street, St Leonards, Sydney, NSW, 2065
RSVP Essential: firstname.lastname@example.org
Australians have become used to being somewhat unique. Basically emerging entirely unscathed from the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and with an economy that continues to buck global trends, we wear our ‘lucky country’ badge with pride. But are we really the lucky country? And will we continue to prosper in the future global economy?
The Global Climate Leadership 2012 Review released by The Climate Institute last week includes the Low Carbon Competitiveness Index (LCCI), by analysts at Vivid Economics, a ranking of the G20 countries based on their predicted low carbon competitiveness measured by nineteen variables. The first index was undertaken in 2009 and the 2012 index uses the most recent data available and reassesses the position of the G20 countries. The 2012 index backcasts the data to 1995 to examine how countries’ rankings change over time.
Far from looking like the lucky country, Australia is ranked 16th and is the worst performing advanced economy in the G20. Australia is the only country which currently has a lower score than in 1995. In this same period China, South Korea and Mexico have made significant improvements. So we may have remained unique, but unique no longer seems so appealing in this light!
It is important to note that the LCCI does not incorporate the recent Clean Energy Future initiatives (beginning July 1 2012) that will assist Australia in advancing its readiness for a low carbon world. However, we also lag in the ever-expanding area of clean energy investment and renewable energy. At the risk of sounding entirely cynical, I would say that Australia’s lucky country badge seems at risk of being revoked.
The Australian economy has survived the GFC but we must act now to transform our success to date into future success in an increasingly carbon constrained global economy. It won’t be luck that ensures our good fortune is translated into future prosperity, but hard political decisions, backed by business and the community.
Future ‘climate campaigns’ in Australia must convince or inspire the community to demand (or at least accept) tough long-term decisions made by politicians in this policy area. Australians value their place in the world and their seat at the table, and effective communication about not only the risks of inaction, but also the productivity benefits of action should convince Australians that economic and social prosperity is not just about the here and now. Our ongoing prosperity will be determined by our preparedness for the future.
By Hannah Treloar.
OgilvyEarth has been a proud Major Climate Partner of The Climate Institute (TCI) since March 2010, supporting TCI’s vision for Australia to lead the world in clean technology use and innovation. Part of our contribution to this partnership is supporting the TCI team with strategic communications planning and media outreach.
This year, OgilvyEarth has had the pleasure of being involved in the promotion of a number of world first initiatives led by TCI, including the launch of the Climate Advocacy Fund – a joint initiative with Australian Ethical Investment. The Fund works on the ‘power in numbers’ principle to influence Australia’s biggest companies to better manage climate change risk through constructive engagement and the provision of Australia’s first climate change shareholder resolutions. The Fund gives shareholders the opportunity to positively shape corporate behaviour in relation to sustainability. Media interest in the Fund has been positive, with stories reported by The AFR, The Age, SMH, Business Spectator and ABC News.
More recently, TCI in conjunction with Vivid Economics launched a pioneering research report that compares Australia’s efforts in driving carbon pricing within the electricity sector against its major trading partners China, US, UK, Japan and South Korea.
The report, titled “Putting a Price Tag on Pollution: Driving Competitiveness in the Clean Energy Economy”, revealed for the first time that Australia is lagging significantly behind its major trading partners in putting a price on carbon, therefore dispelling the myth Australia is at risk of leading the world and ‘acting too soon’ in making businesses responsible for pollution.
To maximise media coverage of the report, an interactive media release (IMR) was used in place of a traditional media release. The IMR featured the announcement of the report, links to an executive summary and the full report, an infographic, video interviews with two key spokespersons, and links to TCI social media platforms.
Media coverage of the report has been phenomenal with over 170 pieces of coverage appearing on the day of launch, including local stories in the AFR, SMH, ABC News and The Economist. The report has also attracted international coverage in the UK, US and China. The IMR drove a great response online, both from the media and international government staff and policy makers. Numerous bloggers posted links to the IMR and infographic, there were over 1260 views of the infographic on Flickr and over 345 views of the YouTube videos.
The report has been recognised by industry experts as an important piece of work which uncovers where Australia really stands on the issue of carbon pricing:
Dr Martin Parkinson, Secretary of the Department of Climate Change: “Vivid and the Climate Institute are to be congratulated for attempting to quantify the implicit carbon price imposed by policies to reduce emissions”
Heather Ridout, CEO Australian Industry Group: “I think it really does attack that idea that Australia was going to go it alone, that was a straw man and it’s been shown to be one.”
Professor Ross Garnaut: “The Climate Institute analysis was a very good first step that probably underplayed how far Australia was behind China and the US.”
Our team at OgilvyEarth continues to support the great work TCI is doing to make clean and low carbon a part of our everyday life.