« Alarmism | Main | One reason I love Copenhagen »

March 31, 2008


paul hertz

I think you're missing (at least) a couple of important points in your quick "evaluation" of the campaign. Feel free to elaborate on the below list that isn't in any way ranked.

1. The negative attention. The last week the campaign met a lot of criticism that - in my opinion largely rightfully - questioned the actual impact of the black out.
One of the points being that if people lit candles in stead the CO2 emission would be eight times worse (please correct the number as I can't remember the exact figure - but it was something like that ...).
Another point being the good old: "what will it change that we do something when all the others don't?". That kind of argumentation is hopeless but someone out there nevertheless went to great lengths to point out how many countries, cities and people that did NOT parttake in the event.

2. The almost nauseous over-symbolic character of the event itself.
For better and for worse I see rejection (for lack of a better word) as a typical Danish reaction when something becomes "too much". The idea of turning off your electric lights for one hour might be great (and fantastic and brilliant and oh so right) from an international marketing point of view but I'd like to challenge the local relevance in Denmark. The event is simply too "catholic" in its nature and the first anti-authoritarian thought that springs to mind is not to do as you're told.
I even imagine this point of view would be more pronounced outside the capital area where people are less "hip" (read: more grounded). It'd be interesting to hear from people that experienced the event in some of the other Danish regions.

3. Common sense.
It can be - but might not necessarily be derived from my point 2 - but hey come on; We all know it'd make a lot more sense and have a lot more impact if we all swithced to energy saving light bulbs. And if council could get their shit together and fix the street lights outside my house so they aren't on 24/7. And if big companies would just remember to turn off the lights, computers, printers and so on at night. And so on, and so on ...

All said I welcome initiatives that can raise awareness about our wasteful way of living.
I just don't think the lights out idea is that brilliant. Really.

Andrew Smart

Totally agree Paul,

I remember feeling the same way about those huge rock concerts that happened last summer. It raised awareness for a week or so either side of the event itself and then what?

The way things are going to really change is when governments start getting involved - legislation etc. Breakthrough ideas like the Ken Livingson's congestion charge in London for example. (that was a radical idea at the time and now it's accepted) Why for example should it be okay for huge retail outlets to leave their lights on all night without huge green taxes being slapped on them? Why is it that restaurants can buy and fire up as many of those outdoor heaters as they want and have them blasting away all year round without being taxed somehow?

Ok, I'm starting to rant a little too much. Deep breaths.

Generally speaking, I agree with the idea of trying to create some sort of symbolic event that reminds people that they should be thinking more about their carbon usage. But in reality, I just don't think people will really make the kind of change needed unless they're forced to. It's a pity that poloticians have become so subservient and short-termist.

paul hertz

I'm not in any way against trying to raise awareness through events with a symbolic twist. I just feel most of the things going on lack a relevance and a "call to action" - to use marketing terms - for me and the rest of this world's Joe Publics.

To get the message through you need to get people involved and apart from the whip - legislation and so on - I truly think you need to give people a carrot. Something in return for their efforts.

OK, so turning off the lights will make some (but obviously too few otherwise we wouldn't have this discussion) people feel good or perhaps just self-righteous inside but it doesn't cause a sudden change in their everyday behavior. Noone turned off the lights the following Saturday, right?

The carrot need not necessarily be a physical thing or money saved or what have we but since we are in the rather early stages of re-educating the world about responsible behavior perhaps we need to look at all the easy wins first.

A very simple, straightforward and just beautiful example is the Sainsbury's initiative where they gave away 1m energy saving lightbulbs to customers who signed an "energy saving plegde" (a short read about can be found it here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/oct/22/energyefficiency.consumeraffairs)

Now that's great example of a commercial event that gives people a carrot and helps them change behavior permanently.

The comments to this entry are closed.