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A review of Barnet Council’s BarNET ZERO campaign

Could you help to reduce carbon emissions in Barnet? Underneath this title are illustrations of: a boy holding a large glass jar, with the heading recycling, waste and sustainable consumption; a woman and a boy holding a sign reading 'educate children and young people on sustainability and climate change'; 2 children crouching on the ground and looking at a frog with the caption 'nature, biodiversity and greenspace'; a man riding a bicycle with the banner 'encouraging active travel'; 3 people sitting on a park bench with the heading 'housing. buildings and energy'.

Barnet Council’s BarNET ZERO campaign grew from a transformative shift following the declaration of a climate and biodiversity emergency in May 2022. The declaration led to a fundamental change towards community-driven sustainability.

Green ambitions and responsibilities

With ambitions to achieve a net zero council by 2030 and a net zero borough by 2042, this initiative showcases a ground-up commitment to sustainability. It stands as a beacon of transparency, innovation, and resilience.

BarNET ZERO’s unique sustainability brand, unveiled in January 2023, is not just a visual identity but a testament to a localised, innovative approach.

Campaign planning

The campaign’s success is grounded in meticulous planning across five key strands, each with a focus on community collaboration.

  1. Innovative branding, with real people
  2. The launch of Barnet’s first-ever Citizens’ and Young People’s Assemblies
  3. Projects such as the UK’s largest electrical vehicle charge point initiative
  4. Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration
  5. Innovation in the field of sustainability

Communication tactics

The campaign was created to emphasise the diverse narratives, real people, and co-designed solutions that humanise Barnet’s sustainability journey.

Alongside the strategic use of social media (supported with toolkits for partners) the campaign, executed over five weeks, used a mix of communication channels:

  • a dedicated web portal
  • e-bulletins
  • engaging community ambassadors
  • eye-catching bus advertisements

This sustainability communications initiative drew inspiration from best practices, evidenced by data-driven decision-making and collaboration with key stakeholders.

Supporting statistics

In the first quarter alone, the campaign exceeded targets with 150k video views, demonstrating an impressive 40% reach among Barnet’s population.

The social media advertising spend of £1429 over five weeks exemplifies value-for-money, reflecting a cost-effective approach that actively engaged residents, businesses, and community groups.

Campaign outcomes

Beyond its initial objectives, BarNET ZERO achieved outstanding:

  • Awareness and recall
    Topping awareness polls among residents (in the council’s communications survey) with over 46% acknowledging the net zero ambitions.
  • Community involvement
    Fostering an inclusive approach that empowered diverse groups to actively participate in content creation.
  • Academic and community interest
    Gaining interest from Middlesex University for a case study on place branding.
  • Media coverage
    Featuring in prominent industry-recognised publications, enhancing visibility on a national level.
  • Transparency and innovation
    Setting a high standard in sustainability communications through community involvement and innovative branding.

And contributed to:

  1. An improved Climate Scorecard
    Elevating the council’s climate score from 0% to an impressive 46%, surpassing numerous other councils across the UK.
  2. Annual carbon reduction
    Demonstrating tangible results with indicative annual carbon reduction figure of 4.8% from 2021-22.

BarNET ZERO serves as an exemplary case study for local authorities, emphasising the crucial role of community engagement in achieving meaningful results in climate change and biodiversity emergencies.

You can learn more and join the BarNET ZERO journey

Thank you Sunita Trehan (Senior Campaigns Manager – Planet Strategy and Resources – for Barnet Council) for sharing this work with the Socitm team.