Climate Change Resources

This section of the site provides quick access to case studies and helpful on-line social marketing resources for those who promote climate change mitigation and adaptation behaviours. We welcome suggestions for additional case studies and resources.

Latest News

December 5, 2022  |  Six New Landmark Case Studies Designated
Our newest Landmark peer review and selection panel, which focuses on climate change mitigation and adaptation behaviors, has awarded Landmark designation to two additional programs this year. (1) Chicago's Building Energy Rating System requires building owners to prominently post a building's energy performance rating, and to share that that rating with potential buyers and/or renters. (2) Southern Nevada Water Authority's Water Smart Landscapes  program pays homeowners to replace their non-native, ornamental lawns with plants and landscapes that use less water because they are better adapted to their dry climate. In addition, our sustainable transportation and building energy panels designated four additional case studies related to climate change mitigation: "How Copenhagen Became a Cycling City", "Paris Reduces Car Use, Boosts Walking and Cycling", "Reduce Your Juice", and "Opting Out in Germany for Non-Renewable Energy."  Landmark designation recognizes behavior change approaches and programs considered to be among the most successful, innovative, replicable and adaptable in the world.

 

Most Recent Climate Change Case Studies

Landmark Case Study Southern Nevada Water Authority's Water Smart Landscapes Program  Environment

As climate change leads to more drought situations, it will be important to understand how to best promote water conservation. Southern Nevada Water Authority’s Water Smart Landscapes (WSL) program pays homeowners to replace their non-native, ornamental lawns with plants and landscapes that use less water because they are better adapted to their dry climate. It is one of the longest running “cash for grass” policies. Designated a Landmark case study by our climate change peer review panel in 2022.

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Landmark Case Study Chicago’s Building Energy Rating System  Environment

Chicago was the first U.S. city to require building owners to prominently post a building’s energy performance rating, and to share that that rating with potential buyers and/or renters. While the rating system was being introduced, ComEd and Peoples Gas ran extensive complementary incentive and rebate programs that enabled building owners and managers to make energy improvements at little to no cost. Designated a Landmark case study in 2022 by our climate change peer review panel.

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Landmark Case Study How Copenhagen Became a Cycling City  EnvironmentHealthSafety

What makes a great cycling city? How did the medium-sized City of Copenhagen get its citizens to cycle to work / school 49% of the time? While topography and climate are significant influencers, safety, supportive infrastructure, and promotion also played key roles. Copenhagen increased cycling by making it safer, easier, and more convenient. This case illustrates the power of piloting alternative enhancements on an ongoing basis to further reduce barriers and increase benefits, based on regular surveys, traffic data and safety data. It also features a transparent planning process - the Bicycle Account – a research, evaluation, promotion, and citizen engagement tool that was used thirteen times from 1996 to 2018. Designated a Landmark case study by our Transportation peer selection panel in 2022.

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Landmark Case Study Opting Out in Germany for Non-Renewable Energy  Environment

While many people in Germany say they would use green energy if presented with a choice, very few consumers do so. In contrast, most people have been using green energy in a few German municipalities where citizens have had to opt out for non-renewable energy supplies rather than having to opt-in to get renewable ones. This case study presents their experiences and illustrates the value of randomized control trials (RCTs) for measuring program impacts.

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Too Good to Go  Environment

About 75% of food waste goes to landfill, where it becomes one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions at 10% of total emissions. Too Good to Go turns food waste into a win-win situation for everyone, by creating jobs, generating revenue, reducing food waste, and diminishing environmental impacts. At its most basic, the app is a marketplace for surplus food. It enables you to see what extra food is likely to be available that day from nearby bakeries, stores, and restaurants - fresh food that would otherwise be thrown out at the end of the day because it would no longer be considered fresh and salable. Using the app, you can buy a ‘magic bag’ meal for roughly one third of what you would normally pay, then pick it up at the vendor’s closing time. As of June 2022, a total of 141 million bags had been sold, eliminating 775 million lb. (about 387,500 US tons) of CO2 emissions. In the first six months of 2022 alone, 88.5 million bags were sold, eliminating the equivalent of 973.5 million pounds (about 486,800 US tons) of CO2 emissions per year. 

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Carpooling and Vanpooling in San Mateo County, California  Environment

This program used advertising (online, video, and display), challenges, and prize-based campaigns to attract and retain its target audience. It also made its standard Guaranteed Ride Home system easier to use. This case study illustrates the timing of incentives to promote habit formation. It also exemplifies how benefits can be increased by integrating some of the participant-facing aspects of multiple, independent programs in neighboring regions.Over about six months from the Fall of 2018 to Spring 2019, Commute.org's Carpool 2.0 program led to a quadrupling of carpools logged in San Mateo County through its Star commuter platform each month, from 6,400 in to nearly 30,000. Between October 2018 and December 2019, the program rewarded 1,961 carpoolers, making 218,453 one-way trips, travelling 4,708,310 miles, and saving $1,325,860. About 40% of program participants drove alone before the program, and 33% reported costs savings as their top motivation to carpool. There was an associated reduction of 955 tons of CO2 emissions (about 819 tons per year.)

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Smart Trips Austin  Environment

Smart Trips Austin encourages residents of Austin Texas, USA to take multi-modal transportation options (walk, bike, ride transit, and share rides) more often, rather than drive alone. The program focuses on personal interactions — educating individuals on their options and overcoming barriers to multi-modal travel. Smart Trips reinforces this new information using community-based programs such as learn-to-ride classes, transit instruction, and group walking activities. Initially, the program targeted residential neighbourhoods of Austin Texas; each year a different area was targeted. In 2020 the program expanded to city-wide and began to segment using a Stages of Change approach. In 2021, it started targeting residents who had recently moved to or around Austin. Smart Trips Austin averaged a participation rate of 5-10% of households contacted, a 5-10% reduction in drive-alone trips among participants (about 41,000 vehicle trips per year), and a corresponding 5-10% increase in active and shared trips.

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Landmark Case Study Climate Matters Program for TV Weathercasters  Environment

Climate Matters trains and supports American TV weathercasters to report on the local impacts of climate change while reflecting current scientific knowledge and concerns. The program provides participating newscasters with weekly story packages with local data and broadcast-quality graphics that visualize the data. Because of an overt conflict in the meteorology community about opposing views of climate change, the program engaged a conflict mediator who worked with small groups of opinion-leading weathercasters to surface and work through the entrenched conflicts. As climate reporting became increasingly normative, the program ensured that everyone in the weathercasting community knew the behaviors were gaining in popularity. As of 31 October 2020, there were 968 participating weathercasters in 483 local TV stations, in 92% of all US media markets and 99 of the top 100 media markets. Viewers exposed to their climate education became more likely to understand that climate change is already a 'here, now, us' problem. Designated a Landmark case study in 2021.

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Landmark Case Study Day Zero: Cape Town Includes Fear Appeal to Avoid Running Out of Water  Environment

Fear appeals must be carefully considered as they can too-easily backfire and discourage people from taking in and acting on our messages. And why spread fear unnecessarily? This case study illustrates an appropriate and effective use of a fear appeal to reduce water consumption in Cape Town South Africa. It tracks 30 years, from the time the City predicted severe water shortages to the point where the taps nearly ran dry and this city of four million people reduced water use enough to avoid disaster. Designated a Landmark case study in 2021.

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Carbon Cure  Environment

To meet global greenhouse gas targets, we will need to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, not just slow down emissions. Carbon Cure was designed to promote a shift in specification and purchasing behaviors across the construction supply chain, to recapture a significant amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and help abate climate change. This case study focuses on how the company has promoted the rapid adoption by concrete plants of a new type of concrete – one that in its manufacturing process, removes and permanently stores significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. By 2021 it had enabled the capture of 142,046,000 lb. of CO2 over nine years, an average of 15,782,889 lb. / year.

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Norway’s Promotion of Electric Vehicles  Environment

Several policies / incentives, in place over an extended period, have made Norwegians more likely to purchase electric vehicles (EVs) than people in any other country. These incentives have included: exemption from vehicle registration and high purchase taxes, reduced road tolls, free parking, and access to some bus lanes. A similar long-term approach could be adapted for other big-ticket purchasing behaviors where the impact justifies the expense – for example energy-efficient home / building retrofits and appliances. Norway's electric cars are close to zero-emission as 98% of its electricity came from hydropower.

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Landmark Case Study Seattle’s Just One Trip Phase II  EnvironmentHealth

Just One Trip Phase II illustrates the use of Propensity Modelling / Predictive Analysis, Street Ambassadors, Quality Online User Experience (UX), and trip planning to reduce the proportion of single-occupant car trips in Seattle WA, USA. It engaged over 21,000 people and on average participants reduced four drive-alone trips per week per person. Designated a Landmark case study in 2020.

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Landmark Case Study City of Austin’s Leave Time Travel Incentive  EnvironmentHealth

The City of Austin reduced employee commute travel by one million vehicle miles within six months of making its Leave Time Reward (LTR) a permanent incentive. During this period, the percentage of drive-alone trips fell from 53% to 41%. Attribution of these impacts to the City’s time off incentive policy is strengthened because that policy was introduced in the pilot study, then withdrawn after the pilot, then later reintroduced for the permanent program (Reversal Design.) Designated a Landmark case study in 2020.

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Landmark Case Study California’s Energy Conservation Competition  Environment

Participants in California’s Energy Conservation Competition work to change energy conservation behaviors in their schools relating to lighting, plug-loads, and mechanical systems. They also develop campaigns to encourage fellow students to communicate with teachers, peers, and administrators about energy conservation practices. This comprehensive program cuts school energy bills by 5% to 15%, and integrates climate education and energy efficiency, with linkages to hands-on job training and career development. Designated a Landmark case study in 2020.

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Stay on the Ground  Environment

The most effective approach to-date at shifting air travel to train travel, and also at promoting the sale of carbon offsets for airplane travel, this approach could also work well for other behaviors that are perceived by the audience as clearly important to do, yet are not being adopted by many people.

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Most Recent Climate Change Resources

Calling Climate Change a 'Crisis' May Not Do What You Think  Environment

Focusing on and using terms like "climate emergency" and "climate crisis" can backfire if they increase fear, decrease efficacy beliefs and hope, and reduce news credibility.

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Reducing Food Waste by Promoting Ugly Fruit  Environment

Food waste and associated greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by helping consumers embrace "ugly fruit", which is typically equivalent nutritionally to regular fruit. Read on for guidance on how to do this.

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Shifting Dietary Choices Towards Vegetarian Food  EnvironmentHealth

Shifting dietary choices towards vegetarian food is an urgent challenge given the environmental impact of livestock production and imminent need to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. An online randomized control trial found that meat eaters were significantly more likely to choose a vegetarian meal when presented with a menu with 75% vegetarian items, but not when half (50%) were vegetarian. It is thought that availability may have increased vegetarian food choice by implicitly suggesting behavioral norms or by providing consumers with a wider range of desirable options.

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Tech Resources for Climate Change Programs  Environment

This web page lists free resources provided by the tech community in the following areas: climate change projections around the world; real-time visualization of electricity consumption and resulting CO2 emissions; and calculation of the amount of the carbon footprint or amount of greenhouse gases produced by individual activities, an individual building, or an entire company.

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Resources for Those at the Intersection of Behavior and the Environment  Environment

This page highlights RARE's resources for those at the intersection of behavior and the environment.

  • Behavior Change Interventions in Practice: A Synthesis of Criteria, Approaches, Case Studies, and Indicators.
  • The Science of Changing Behavior for Environmental Outcomes: A Literature Review.
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Emissions Disclosure Requirements Lower CO2 Output  Environment

When large power plants were required to disclose their carbon dioxide output, emissions fell by more than 7%, while at some small plants, exempt from disclosure, emissions rose at least 25%. This illustrates the Hawthorne Effect and the power of Norm Appeals.

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Making Heat Visible: Promoting energy conservation behaviors through thermal imaging  Environment

Two British studies indicate the value of thermal imaging for making heat loss visible and changing behaviors. Published in 2015.

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Longer-Lasting Actions and Responses to Extreme Events Can Have Great Impact  Environment

This 2018 paper links climate science and behavioural science, estimates the potential impact of behavioural programs, and predicts the three types of behavioural programs with the largest impact.

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Limiting Global Warming to 1.5 to 2.0°C: A unique and necessary role for health professionals  EnvironmentHealth

This short paper was written to engage health professionals in our efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, Its central message is that climate solutions are health solutions, and health solutions are economic solutions. Health professionals are among the people best positioned to make sure that the public and policy makers understand this.

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Food Waste: From measurement to management  Environment

This 2019 document provides a much-needed framework for managing food waste, including food surplus, food loss and food waste.It also provides an overview of the literature on drivers of in-home food waste and translate them into guidelines for effective intervention development.

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Talking About Taking Airplanes  Environment

This guide outlines research and tips on talking about airplane trips and climate change. Updated periodically.

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Psychology of Global Warming  Environment

Insights from the psychology of judgment and decision making that might help the climate community communicate global warming science to an often-skeptical public. Published in 2010. Read More »

Program Impact Attribution  EnvironmentHealthSafety

This document provides a brief summary of options for assessing what portion of any measured behavior changes resulted from your program and what portion resulted from other influences. These options can also be used to attribute the affects of your program on a wide range of related variables such as resources used, pollutants released, accident rates and health status.

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Impact of Comics vs Photographs on Knowledge, Attitude and Behavioural Intentions  EnvironmentHealthSafety

This 2017 study compares two modes of visually presenting information  - one using photographs and the other using cartoons - on audience's knowledge, attitudes and behavioural intentions.

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Guides from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities  Environment

Provides guides, reports, toolkits and videos to help build stronger municipalities, with resources covering Affordable Housing, Energy, Low Carbon, Transportation Land use, Waste, Water, Women in government

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