By Kirsty Walker
A bedtime story about drowning kittens and puppies… Labour’s £6m campaign to highlight the dangers of climate change
It begins with the heartwarming family scene of a father reading a story to his daughter.
But the bedtime tale turns out to be a terrifying account of drowning puppies, rabbits dying of thirst and the end of the world as we know it.
This is the Government’s controversial television commercial about the dangers of global warming, which has led to more than 200 complaints being lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority.
The ad, being broadcast at prime-time as part of a £6million campaign, shows a father telling his daughter a story about climate change destroying the world.
Cartoon images appear on screen: A puppy drowns in floods, a kitten floats by on an upturned table and a rabbit weeps as drought sweeps the earth.
The father tells his daughter that scientists say the ‘strange weather’ is being caused ‘by too much CO2, which went up into the sky when the grown ups used too much energy’.
He tells her that if ‘grown-ups’ turned off things such as lightbulbs ‘maybe they could save the land for the little children’. The child looks up at her father and asks: ‘Is there a happy ending?’
A female voice-over then says: ‘It’s up to us how it ends. See what you can do.’ The Department of Energy and Climate Change launched the commercial as part of its Act on CO2 campaign. But critics say the 70-second ad is misleading because it presents as fact disputed scientific evidence that humans have caused climate change.
A Downing Street petition that calls on the Government to ‘stop wasting taxpayers’ money on climate change propaganda designed to frighten our children’ has attracted more than 100 signatures.
Gordon Brown warned of a ‘catastrophe’ for the planet if action to tackle climate change is not agreed at forthcoming UN talks on global warming.
The Prime Minister told representatives from 17 leading countries: ‘Once the damage from unchecked emissions growth is done, no retrospective global agreement in some future period can undo that choice.
‘By then it will be irretrievably too late. So we should never allow ourselves to lose sight of the catastrophe we face if present warming trends continue.’
A spokesman for the Advertising Standards Authority confirmed it had received more than 200 complaints – a ‘high’ volume – about the climate- change commercial.
She said: ‘The majority of people are complaining about the implication that the science around global warming and what causes it has been universally agreed.
‘Our investigators are currently looking into it. If we find there is a strong body of evidence, then we will launch a formal investigation.’
By Ben Webster
Ministers target climate change doubters in prime-time TV advert
Climate change sceptics are to be targeted in a hard-hitting government advertising campaign that will be the first to state unequivocally that Man is causing global warming and endangering life on Earth.
Ministers sanctioned the campaign because of concern that scepticism about climate change was making it harder to introduce carbon-reducing policies such as higher energy bills.
The advertisement attempts to make adults feel guilty about their legacy to their children. It features a father telling his daughter a bedtime story of “a very very strange” world with “horrible consequences” for today’s children.
The storybook shows a British town deep under water, with people and animals drowning.
Carbon dioxide is depicted as rising in clouds of black soot from cars and homes, including from a woman’s hairdryer. The soot gathers into a jagged-toothed monster menacing the town.
The daughter asks her father if the story has a happy ending and a voiceover cuts in, saying: “It’s up to us how the story ends” and directs viewers to the Government’s Act on CO2 website.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change publishes research today showing that 52 per cent of people think climate change will not significantly affect them. Only 33 per cent think that it will and 15 per cent do not know.
When asked how they would react if they knew climate change were going to have a serious effect on their children’s lives, 74 per cent said that they would be willing to change their lifestyle. Fifteen per cent said that they would not make any changes.
Joan Ruddock, the Energy and Climate Change Minister, said: “The survey results show that people don’t realise that climate change is already under way and could have severe consequences. With over 40 per cent of the UK’s C02 emissions a result of personal choices, there is huge potential for individual behaviour change to lower emissions.”
But Philip Stott, Emeritus Professor of Biogeography at the University of London and a critic of the Government’s plan to cut CO2, said the advert was an attempt to manipulate people with alarmist language and apocalyptic imagery. “It is straight out of Orwell’s 1984: an attempt to control with images of a perpetual war against something, in this case climate change.”