Reaching beyond traditional climate constituencies to enlist mainstream audiences in pressuring world leaders to reach a historic global climate agreement
On the face of it, uniting the planet to confront the existential threat of the climate crisis should not be that difficult. After all, the crisis affects every nation and threatens the ability of each to provide a safe and secure future for its citizens. And yet, as the history of international meetings and agreements from the Kyoto Protocol to Copenhagen prove, reaching consensus on a way forward that works for countries all along the development spectrum is anything but simple.
Since the failure of COP 15 in 2009, the climate community had pursued a new path to an international agreement based on the idea that each party and nation should set its own goals for reducing emissions, all working together to a shared goal of holding global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. That path led to the UN’s COP 21 conference in Paris in December 2015, with a landmark agreement outlining a framework for planet-wide action on the table and a growing consensus that this would be the time.
But even with all signs pointing to the real prospect of success in Paris, we knew significant obstacles remained, with countries from the US and China to small island nations all facing difficult decisions to reach an agreement acceptable to all 195 parties. The key, we believed, would be generating enough popular support for a strong agreement to provide negotiators with the political cover they needed.
At Climate Reality, our response was to create a petition inviting citizens around the world to speak together with one voice and call on leaders with a simple demand for COP 21: Take climate action now.
Although the petition was simple, communicating the urgency of the climate threat and the extraordinary nature of the opportunity at COP 21 was not. We needed to cut through the complex language of international agreements and speak plainly to regular men-and-women on the street, whatever street they were on. We needed to make this historic event the world’s easiest decision.
Working with the creative team at Mustache, a New York-based content agency, we created the World’s Easiest Decision web experience.
The site – online at worldseasiestdecision.com – offered users an interactive choose-your-own-adventure journey taking them through the basics of climate change and the opportunity presented by the Paris Agreement. Each step offered users a simple Yes/No choice framed in witty copy like “Do you live on Earth?” and illustrated with playful animation.
Each choice boiled one or more aspects of the Paris Agreement down to the core question of “Should humanity solve the climate crisis while we have time?”, each time presenting the logical conclusion – that negotiators should create a strong accord at COP 21 – as the World’s Easiest Decision.
Each Yes answer from users took them to our Paris petition page where they would have the opportunity to add their name to the millions calling on world leaders to take climate action now. Each No answer would take them to another playful question approaching the core question in Paris from another angle.
WORLD'S EASIEST DECISION
By incorporating World’s Easiest Decision as a core part of Climate Reality’s outreach to audiences across continents and cultures, we were able to bring over 2.2 million citizens together to pressure world leaders to reach a strong agreement at COP 21. With these Climate Reality supporters joining others from partners throughout the global community, former Vice President Al Gore and Climate Reality President and CEO Ken Berlin and movement leaders together delivered over 6 million names calling out for a breakthrough agreement to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a critical juncture in negotiations.
The overwhelming show of support from our friends and citizens worldwide proved to negotiators that the world was behind them at a difficult moment. And with time running out, negotiators found solutions to old impasses and announced on December 12, 2015 that they had made the World’s Easiest Decision and adopted the Paris Agreement to cut emissions and fight climate change together as one planet. Successes simply don’t come any bigger.