Today’s young people have the most to lose from climate change, yet have no voice in the political process. In the run up to the 2014 UN Climate Change Summit, the ‘Why? Why Not?’ campaign called on them to make their voices heard, and to challenge their leaders to take action on the global climate crisis.
Nobel Laureate and former US Vice-President Al Gore and his Climate Reality Project (CRP) requested WPP’s help in creating an integrated communications campaign to put pressure on world leaders to commit to reductions in carbon emissions. These commitments were to be discussed at a United Nations Summit in New York on September 23rd, 2014, and ratified at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, in December, 2015. The aim of the campaign, in Al Gore’s words, was to put ‘a price on carbon in the economy, and a price on denial in politics.’
The strategy was to address world leaders not as politicians but, instead, as parents. The campaign was based on a universal truth– that the first questions asked by children are ‘why?’ as they seek to understand the world around them, and ‘why not?’ as they try to change it. While previous climate communication had been largely complex, distant and negative, this was simple, personal, and positive.
Young people were invited to submit videos for a chance to be the voice of their generation, and address world leaders directly at the UN summit. Thousands of videos were received from 87 countries, and 8 winners were filmed asking their ‘why’ and ‘why not?’ questions. As 400,000 people marched through the streets of New York City to demand action on climate change, our film was shown to 160 heads of state at the UN Summit. Led by the USA and China, unprecedented commitments on emissions reduction have been made, giving great cause for optimism on the road to Paris.