Monday, 6 February 2012

Group discussions from CCC business meeting

It was great to have such a varied audience at the workshop and discussions around some very interesting-sounding research proposals. It felt like a valuable chance to bring businesses and academics together to consider how heightened awareness of climate change achieved through innovative communication methods could bring mutual benefits to both the business and research agendas.

All delegates attending represented one of three ‘roles’:
1) Message - Organisations with a product or service related to sustainability or low carbon.
2) Transmit - Organisations expert in communication – such as marketing, media, design agencies.
3) Study - Researchers and Academics from across the Peninsula.

Delegates were asked to form groups to discuss communication needs and dissemination methods, in relation to climate change. The task was to establish how enhanced communication could impact on organisations where climate change is a driver for their business (e.g. renewables, sustainable transport, waste treatment). To do so, the identification of the organisation’s key audience/s was crucial. The aim was to provide a platform for discussions around innovative problem solving, drawing on the breadth of experience and skills of the delegates - bringing businesses, academics and community groups together.

Having reviewed the videos and worksheets from the event, we are pleased to present some brief summaries of each group's outcomes. It was quite challenging to summarise some of the complex ideas expressed, so any amendments or clarification from group members would be welcomed.

We would also welcome further discussions of these ideas. Comments can be left on this post, or contact us directly here:

Group 1: Community-level energy decisions

Message Communities can take responsibility for their energy needs at a local level. While political decisions are often short-term, local communities can consider long term needs.

Audience Business and domestic energy users, within communities (at a local parish scale).

Transmission method Appeal to local advocates, encourage them to set up monthly meetings. Show what individuals stand to gain through independent energy security.

Idea for supporting study Social theory study - on deliberative democracy. Take Japanese model of community-level decision-making on waste disposal, and study how and whether such models might be used in other societies, such as within Cornwall.

Group 2: The complete carbon footprint of food

Message The carbon emissions caused by food production - from supply chain to preparation and cooking.

Audience Young families and manufacturers

Transmission method Multi-channel: TV, internet, radio. Celebrity-based? Tie in with schools. Give cooking instructions, but with break-out points to show the source of food. Children then influence decision-making within families.

Idea for supporting study Monitoring supermarket behaviour. Will the campaign influence what they do?

Group 3: Lifetime carbon emissions for buildings

Message The majority of carbon emissions from a building are produced at a low level throughout their lifespan - not just during the building phase itself.

Audience Builders and developers, but also Cornwall Council. Individuals that use buildings tend to understand more than decision-makers do at the moment.

Transmission method Begin by studying the audience, to avoid wasting money by not targetting them properly. After this, a media company can be involved, and should use multiple media channels rather than isolating one.

Idea for supporting study Study of information wastage - what information is being transmitted, and what is wasted? Also possibilities for narrative research - harnessing the power of individual's stories to affect and engage.

Group 4: Experiment: low carbon communities with health, wealth and happiness

Message Experimenting or discussing larger issues is more important than communicating messages

Audience No audience as such, but the experiment would happen with small, local communities.

Transmission method -

Idea for supporting study How can we create wealth, health and happiness while lowering CO2, through local actions? Cornwall has low incomes and high happiness. The experiment would compare this with different communities around the globe - similar situation in parts of South America?

Group 5: involving communities in renewable energy projects

Message Local communities can influence the way they manage their energy needs. Projects such as wind turbine construction are able to generate income and energy security for the community.

Audience Potential energy users to begin with. As projects mature, they will need to engage members of community to make decisions on how to spend income from renewable energy projects.

Transmission method Local radio and websites (funded by income from projects?). Involve local schools and clubs/societies.

Idea for supporting study Could form the basis of a PhD project on behavioural change.

Group 6: Involving volunteers in battery recycling

Message Promoting involvement in volunteer-led battery and fluorescent light bulb recycling schemes. Minimal effort can provide large impacts.

Audience Potential advocates - those who already feel indignant about landfill of dangerous and/or valuable materials.

Transmission method Describe what it would be like without volunteer-led schemes. Market research on which message resonates more strongly: wasting valuable materials, or the potential effects of harmful toxins from landfill of batteries and fluorescent light bulbs. Encourage lobbying of government by organisations carrying out such projects.

Idea for supporting study Assessing the effects of educational packages for primary and secondary schools. These would cover energy, battery use, material recovery and product life cycles. Also, studies of the environmental impacts of landfill for batteries and fluorescent bulbs would be beneficial.

Group 7: Encouraging healthy and/or sustainable lifestyles

Message Creating healthy and sustainable communities, through healthy and/or sustainable lifestyles

Audience Children / NHS service users

Transmission method A range of media should be used - newsletters in church and hobby groups, but also new media for forum creation. Should be participatory - people are part of the process themselves.

Idea for supporting study Focus groups can be used to determine barriers to healthy lifestyles. What is stopping them from eating healthier food and doing exercise? The results of such studies can inform the project, making communication more specific and targetted.

Taking it further
Do you want to take one of these ideas further? Please contact:

Dr Will Stahl-Timmins -

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