Climate Change Resources

This section of the site provides quick access to case studies and helpful on-line social marketing resources for those who promote climate change mitigation and adaptation behaviours. We welcome suggestions for additional case studies and resources.

Latest News

November 3, 2020  |  New Water Conservation Case Study Ilustrates Appropriate Use of Fear Appeal for Climate Change Adaptation
Cape Town's Day Zero Campaign covers the appropriate and effective use of a fear appeal to reduce water consumption in Cape Town, South Africa. Climate change, along with other factors has made water supply less predictable for this city of four million people. Access this new case study in the left hand column below.
October 21, 2020 New Resources Added
We've added four new case studies and five Topic Resources during the past year. The case studies are in the left hand column below and the Topic Resources are in the right hand column. Let us know what you think.

Most Recent Climate Change Case Studies

Day Zero: Cape Town Uses Fear Appeal to Avoid Running Out of Water  Environment


Fear appeals must be carefully considered as they can too-easily backfire and discourage people from taking in and acting on our messages. And why spread fear unnecessarily? This case study illustrates an appropriate and effective use of a fear appeal to reduce water consumption in Cape Town South Africa. It tracks 30 years, from the time the City predicted severe water shortages to the point where the taps nearly ran dry and this city of four million people reduced water use enough to avoid disaster. 

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California’s Energy Conservation Competition  Environment

Participants in California’s Energy Conservation Competition work to change energy conservation behaviors in their schools relating to lighting, plug-loads, and mechanical systems. They also develop campaigns to encourage fellow students to communicate with teachers, peers, and administrators about energy conservation practices. This comprehensive program integrates climate education and energy efficiency, with linkages to hands-on job training and career development.

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Opting Out in Germany for Non-Renewable Energy  Environment

While many people in Germany say they would use green energy if presented with a choice, very few consumers do so. In contrast, most people have been using green energy in a few German municipalities where citizens have had to opt out for non-renewable energy supplies rather than having to opt-in to get renewable ones. This case study presents their experiences and illustrates the value of randomized control trials (RCTs) for measuring program impacts.

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Norway’s Promotion of Electric Vehicles  Environment

Several policies / incentives, in place over an extended period, have made Norwegians more likely to purchase electric vehicles (EVs) than people in any other country. These incentives have included: exemption from vehicle registration and high purchase taxes, reduced road tolls, free parking, and access to some bus lanes. A similar long-term approach could be adapted for other big-ticket purchasing behaviors where the impact justifies the expense – for example energy-efficient home / building retrofits and appliances. Norway's electric cars are close to zero-emission as 98% of its electricity came from hydropower.

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Stay on the Ground  Environment

The most effective approach to-date at shifting air travel to train travel, and also at promoting the sale of carbon offsets for airplane travel, this approach could also work well for other behaviors that are perceived by the audience as clearly important to do, yet are not being adopted by many people.

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Landmark Case Study Capitol Hill In Motion  EnvironmentHealth

Capitol Hill In Motion is a recent evolution of the individualized marketing approach used by King County, Washington State, USA. It illustrates how to further engage communities where most trips are already not drive-alone. With remarkably high signup rates, this campaign also delivered a solid 16% average reduction in drive-alone trips (surpassing the campaign goal and King County’s overall goal of a 10% reduction).  Designated in 2017. 

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Landmark Case Study Chicago’s Go Program  EnvironmentHealth

Chicago’s Go Program is an Individualized Marketing program that helps residents walk, bike, ride transit, and use bike share more frequently, while driving alone less often. Compared with past Individualized Marketing efforts in other cities, the Go Programs have pushed the envelope of inclusive, accessible programming that serves a very broad range of Chicago neighborhoods - and the very high participation rates and positive post-program stakeholder input show that this effort paid off. Because of these successes, the Go Program can serve as a model for other communities looking to integrate equity and diversity in Transportation Demand Management programs. On average, 65% of post-program survey respondents report increased walking, biking, or transit usage because of the program. The program’s behavior-changing results led the City of Chicago to designate funding for additional neighborhoods in the future. Designated in 2017. 

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Landmark Case Study ClimateSmart Home Service, Queensland, Australia  Environment

Once a resident signs up for Queensland’s ClimateSmart Home Service, a licensed electrician visits the home, installs a variety of energy-efficiency products, conducts an energy audit, provides recommendations, and leaves behind materials and prompts. The information collected is then used to create a customized plan that is sent to the homeowner approximately six weeks after the visit, with different audience segments receiving different messaging. A voluntary household energy challenge, wireless power monitors and an on-line portal help motivate and empower participants. ClimateSmart was designated a Landmark case study in 2011.

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Landmark Case Study Opower’s Home Energy Report, Minnesota  Environment

This program is a great example of the use of ongoing individualized feedback and prompts, coupled with norm appeals. Opower helps individual utility companies to send customized home energy use feedback reports to their residential utility customers. The full-colour reports include a comparison with other similar households, offer tips and strategies to reduce energy use, and provide seasonal energy consumption information. A web portal offers personalized insights and tips, and tools for choosing an optimal energy rate plan. In addition, Opower offers utilities the opportunity to send text messages directly to customers to alert them when their energy consumption is high and offer ways to reduce it. Updated as of October, 2014.

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Landmark Case Study Burlington’s Ice Rink Energy Competition  Environment

The City of Burlington's Ice Rink Energy Competition employs a low cost, easily replicable approach to significantly reduce energy consumption, associated greenhouse gases (GHG) and energy costs. A friendly competition to reduce energy at eight of the city's ice rinks helps change behaviours among staff and users, improves facility performance, and extends equipment life without sacrificing facility service levels or user satisfaction. Designated a Landmark case study in 2013.

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Landmark Case Study Class 5 Energy  Environment

This comprehensive, long-term approach combines education, training, behavior change and goal setting with progress tracking, recognition and continuous improvement to reduce energy use in schools, hospitals and other institutional settings.

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Barrie Water Conservation Program  Environment

The City of Barrie, Ontario has deferred millions of dollars in waste water and water supply capital expenditures with its retrofit water conservation program. The City supplied subsidized ultra low flow toilets, showerheads and aerators to Barrie residents over a two-year period.

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Commuter Challenge: Environment Canada's Participation  EnvironmentHealth

This case study illustrates the successful engagement of a large organization (Environment Canada) in a broad-scale staff participation program. That program, the Commuter Challenge, is a Canada-wide NGO-led event that challenges commuters to reduce the use of single-occupant vehicles during a specific time frame. It is used as an awareness raising initiative and to promote trial of an activity, not as a scientific auditing or survey tool.

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Setback Thermostats: Research and Resource Alert  Environment

This alert reviews research and resources relevant to turning down the heat (turning up the air conditioning temperature) - either by hand or using a setback thermostat - based on a report from Toronto Public Health.

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AT&T Employee Telework Initiative  Environment

The AT&T Employee Telework Initiative provides information and support to all staff and management, corporate-wide, who would like to telework either part-time or full-time. Since 1992, AT&T has succeeded in developing not only a formal policy and telework program for its employees, but also a telework internet portal that acts as a model and guide for other companies interested in telework. AT&T believes that its telework initiative can be replicated by practically any company.

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Most Recent Climate Change Resources

Nature contact, nature connectedness and associations with health, wellbeing and pro-environmental behaviours  EnvironmentHealth

This study investigated the relationships between three types of nature contact, psychological connectedness, health, subjective wellbeing and pro-environmental behaviours. It suggests that interventions increasing both contact with, and connection to nature, are likely to be needed in order to achieve synergistic improvements to human and planetary health.

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Food Waste Management: Solving the Wicked Problem  Environment

This document provides a much-needed framework for managing food waste, including food surplus, food loss and food waste.It also provides an overview of the literature on drivers of in-home food waste and translate them into guidelines for effective intervention development.

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The Debunking Handbook  EnvironmentHealth

Misinformation can be a significant barrier to action. It damages society in a number of ways, having consequences for public health, the environment, and democracy. But undoing misinformation is difficult! Fortunately researchers have published a torrent of research into how to counter misinformation over the last decade and the field has made considerable progress.

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The Rebound Effect  Environment

An assessment of the evidence for rebound effects and net economy-wide energy savings from improved (building and transportation) energy efficiency.

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Utility Energy Efficiency Program Performance from a Climate Change Perspective: a comparison of structural and behavioral programs  Environment

Behavioral energy efficiency programs can reduce the same amount of damages from carbon emissions as structural retrofit programs, but in less time and at lower cost. They can  also further boost savings from structural programs.

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Talking About Taking Airplanes  Environment

This guide outlines research and tips on talking about airplane trips and climate change.

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Why we're rethinking the images we use for our climate journalism  Environment

Guardian picture editor Fiona Shields explains why The Guardian will be using fewer polar bears and more people to illustrate its coverage of the climate emergency Read More »

Limiting global warming to 1.5 to 2.0°C—A unique and necessary role for health professionals  EnvironmentHealth

 This short paper was written to engage health professionals in our efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, Its central message is that climate solutions are health solutions, and health solutions are economic solutions. Health professionals are among the people best positioned to make sure that the public and policy makers understand this.

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Engaging Teachers to Communicate Scientific Consensus on Climate Change and Other Topics  EnvironmentHealthSafety

When consensus about a risk or mitigating behavior is newly developed and/or not clearly understood, communicating that consensus through teachers / instructors can be critical. While this blog entry focuses on climate change, it may also apply to new understandings in many topic areas.

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Fostering Forest Conservation and Management among Woodland Owners  Environment

A summary of time-tested behavior-change theories and models, and lessons from social movements, that can be used to help foster forest conservation actions and a culture of sustainable forestry among woodland owners. More broadly, the findings are relevant to a range of programs promoting multiple, complicated or long term behavior changes.

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Both Diet Change and More Efficient Farming Practices Required for Sustainability  EnvironmentHealth

Changing consumers'diets and using more efficient farming methods globally are both essential to stave off irreversible damage to the environment, a new study says.

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Bringing the Concept of Climate-Smart Agriculture to Life  Environment

This report offers the most complete overview to date of agricultural technologies considered climate-smart around the world, including specific barriers to their adoption.

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Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health  EnvironmentHealth

The Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health publishes highly credible reports documenting the impacts of climate change on health.

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Longer-Lasting Actions and Responses to Extreme Events Can Have Great Impact  Environment

This paper links climate science and behavioural science, estimates the potential impact of behavioural programs, and predicts the three types of behavioural programs with the largest impact.

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Communications Handbook for Climate Change Scientists  Environment

This communications Handbook, commissioned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change offers a wealth of research on the science of climate change communication, practical tips and case studies. Also noted below is Climate Outreach's more recent guide to Communicating Carbon Pricing

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