Focus: Corporate Responsibility - Charity tackles climate change on the home front

Anita Pati, anita.pati@haynet.com

Global Action Plan appeals for government help with teaching people how they can make a difference.

Global Action Plan has called on the Government to do more in its campaign to make industry wake up to climate change.

The practical environmental charity, which helps people make changes at work, school and in the home, launched a communications package at a House of Commons event earlier this month.

The package, which includes education, workshops, theatre performances and posters, has been produced to help companies, local and national government and community groups tackle climate change head on.

Speaking at the event, Elliot Morley, climate change and environment minister, said: "We believe with Global Action Plan that communicating the reality of climate change is essential."

Trewin Restorick, director of GAP, said that the Government had recently focused on using technology to tackle climate change, but should do more to support the voluntary sector and encourage small changes in the everyday actions of individuals.

"Government funding is crucial if the voluntary sector is to play a role in communicating the issue of climate change, yet it is in short supply," said Restorick. "In fact, all the indications are that the Government is far happier supporting anti-graffiti and clean-up initiatives than grasping the nettle of climate change."

GAP used the launch to showcase its work with industry, where it has used EcoTeams - groups of volunteers in workplaces - to encourage people to make small reductions in energy use.

EcoTeams were piloted last year among British Gas employees, in the first partnership between GAP and business. Teams learn how actions such as turning lights out, not leaving appliances on standby and using public transport, can be effective in reducing emissions. The hope is they take the message back into their homes.

"We originally wanted to target households, but we weren't reaching individuals this way," said Saskia Merriman, a team leader with GAP. "So we decided to approach businesses, which have a natural community."

Each EcoTeam has about six colleagues, who meet once a month to learn what they can do about waste, energy, water, transport and shopping. About 90 employees from across the country, mainly from call centres, took part.

Cheryl Marshall, a customer manager at British Gas in Leeds, said the scheme had encouraged her daughter to be more aware of her energy use, especially in terms of switching off lights.

As a result of the scheme, the average waste reduction per employee was 31 per cent, each person increased their recycling by 25 per cent and energy reduction was 16.5 per cent per household.

KEY POINTS

- Global Action Plan wants the Government to support the voluntary sector more in helping individuals to make changes to their everyday energy use

- GAP launched a communications package for companies, government and community groups earlier this month. The package includes theatre performances, workshops and posters

- The charity piloted the concept of EcoTeams last year with British Gas. EcoTeams are groups of colleagues who meet to learn how to tackle climate change

- GAP is now looking for more corporates to set up EcoTeams.

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