Microsoft launches climate-focused communications campaign

Friends of the Earth's chief executive Craig Bennett (pictured) is heading up the joint campaign

Called “Empowering the Planet” and run in association with Friends of the Earth (FotE), the campaign consists of a dedicated climate-related news page on MSN’s website, a series of social media posts and three petitions to the UK Government.

The first of the petitions is centred around ocean plastics pollution and asks Ministers to build on the 5p bag charge and bans on items such as plastic-stemmed cotton buds and microbeads with measures to “tackle trickier plastics” like those found in clothing and vehicle tyres.

The second is focused on deforestation and urges the creation of a legally binding target to double tree cover in the UK “as soon as possible”. The last is a call to “urgent climate action”, imploring a transition to 100% renewable energy, a ban on fracking and greater investment in low-carbon transport.

Elsewhere in the campaign, Microsoft News is curating sustainability news from other major national publications and is hosting a “donate” feature, enabling users to make direct monthly or one-off contributions to FotE’s work.

FotE’s chief executive Craig Bennett said the launch of the campaign comes against a backdrop of events which prove that climate change will soon “see extreme weather become the new normal, destroying homes and claiming lives”.

Specifically, he cited glacier melts in Greenland and Iceland; forest fires in Amazonia; wildfires in the Arctic Circle and coral reef decline in Oceania; as well as increased flooding in the UK.

“The UK has declared a climate emergency and there is a choice to make,” Bennett said.

“We can build a nation with clean air, flourishing nature and thriving new industries or we can watch as worsening extreme weather, floods and droughts destroy lives.

“People in Britain, and across the planet, have the power to make a difference. We can start by looking at our own lives…

“But individual changes can only go so far. Which is why it’s also important that we’re part of a larger conversation. That we call on our local businesses, councils and MPs to do more in our local area to make space for nature, improve public transport and divest from climate-wrecking fossil fuels. That we call on the government to invest in renewable energy, doubling tree cover and providing climate support to poorer nations, who are often on the front line of the crisis.”

Climate strike

Bennett went on to emphasise the social and political context in which the MSN campaign is being launched – in particular, the growing support for climate strikes across the globe.

The biggest school climate strike to date, on March 15, garnered the support of 1.4 million students in 112 countries.

The next event, due to begin on September 20 and conclude on September 27, is due to be larger still, with big-name businesses having publicly pledged their support for the first time. Such firms include Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, Lush Cosmetics, Atlassian and personal care firm Seventh Generation. Industry bodies including Business in the Community, the UK Green Buildings Council and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) are also taking part.

Sarah George

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