In 2015, the UN's climate conference drew world leaders in Paris to adopt a historic climate agreement. With record tempreatures and seas rising worldwide, it was time for bold action to stop climate change – and we had to let our leaders know.
To seize this moment, Climate Reality's Open Letter brought citizens across the planet together to demand a strong agreement in Paris. The film bore witness to lives directly affected by climate change across continents and invited audiences to add their voices to the millions calling for action by signing a global petition to our leaders.
Open Letter was shot in 12 countries, showcasing both climate realities and climate hope and solutions. Along with the citizen heroes calling for action, the film features Edward Norton, Richard Branson, and former US Vice President Al Gore.
We created Open Letter with three objectives:
1) To tell a story that resonates: We sought to capture the human story of climate change and share the solutions that are in our hands today.
2) To pressure world leaders to act: We sought to raise awareness of the historic opportunity for progress at COP 21 and create a global chorus calling for action that world leaders simply could not ignore.
3) To engage citizens worldwide: We sought to inspire audiences everywhere to take action at this pivotal moment by signing our petition.
Climate communicators consistently encounter two challenges reaching and motiving audiences to act. First, the global scale of the challenge can make the issue feel too abstract, and divorced from daily life to address, discouraging action. Second, when audiences do want to take action, many are unsure how to do so in ways that make tangible and real differences.
Recognizing both these challenges and our historic opportunity for progress at the COP 21 conference, we created Open Letter with a strategy focused on educating, exciting, and empowering audiences.
Education: We sought to take climate change out of science textbooks and put a human face on the crisis. By highlighting the people whose lives are being transformed by the issue, we sought to awaken empathy and spark the moral courage to respond in audiences everywhere. In addition, clearly addressing the upcoming COP 21 climate talks and the role of world leaders, we also sought to educate audiences about the conference and the practical solutions to climate change available today.
Excitement: We aimed to tell the story of the citizen movement for solutions growing around the globe and highlight the opportunity for a breakthrough agreement in Paris as a major step forward. Our goal was to excite and energize audiences who wanted to address climate change but hadn't previously seen how we could – or what they could do – encouraging them to both join the movement and invite their friends and family members to do so too.
Empowerment: We strove to empower audiences everywhere to play a role in the upcoming COP 21 talks by providing relatable models of citizens calling for action and promoting an accessible tool (our petition demanding a strong agreement in Paris) they could use to pressure their leaders to reach a breakthrough agreement. We selected many of the individuals featured in Open Letter from the nations that would be particularly influential in the success – or breakdown – of the Paris talks, aiming to inspire their fellow citizens in particular to speak up for a strong agreement.
To achieve this strategy, we developed Open Letter to feature citizens around the world calling on their leaders to take action in Paris and inviting audiences to join them by signing our petition.
Timing: We released Open Letter two months before COP 21 when the conference was making news headlines and there was time to pressure world leaders.
Social Media: We promoted Open Letter through Climate Reality's social channels and email list – reaching over 2 million activists. Stills from the film were made into shareable graphics to influence our digital audience to sign the petition.
Partners: We partnered with 30+ influential organizations to share Open Letter with their audiences and extend its reach.
Website: We featured Open Letter on Climate Reality's home and primary campaign landing pages, where visitors were invited to add their voices to our petition to world leaders.
The response to Open Letter was incredible.
Engage citizens worldwide: The film generated more than 6 million impressions that resulted in more than 2 million views. On Facebook alone, it was shared 8,000 times, helping raise awareness of the COP 21 talks and grow the global movement for solutions at a critical time.
Pressure world leaders: Open Letter became an integral component of Climate Reality's Road to Paris campaign, helping generate 2.2 million signatures calling for action in Paris and proving to world leaders that people around the planet were united in supporting bold action to address climate change. These signatures were personally delivered by former US Vice President Al Gore to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the closing week of COP 21, providing a final push for action at a critical juncture in negotiations.
Tell a story that resonates: The popular response was overwhelmingly positive, proving the power of human stories to connect with and inspire audiences in ways facts alone rarely can. As one Facebook user said: “A touching way to address this hugely significant issue."