We have been living in the shadow of the climate crisis for so long that many of us and our audiences have gotten used to “the new normal.” That’s why socially responsible media must come up with new ways of environmental reporting. And that’s why we used Polish law, city sirens, and search engines to make climate reporting as loud and worldwide as possible.
Poland, with its current authorities, is one of the most notorious coal-dependent countries in Europe. It has avoided any major commitment to deal with the climate crisis. Gazeta.pl is a Polish news Web site with 16 million monthly users and is known as the first Polish portal to launch an environmental desk, Zielona.Gazeta.pl. We also like to experiment and look for a new approach anytime we can.
On the eve of the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), we decided to do something that had never been seen or heard of before. That’s how the Climate Alert came to life.
Sounding the alarm
Together with Koalicja Klimatyczna, a leading Polish environmental NGO coalition, we persuaded six major Polish cities (with a combined population of 4.2 million) to sound city sirens as a historic climate alert. Until that day, the sirens had only gone off to commemorate anniversaries of war or uprisings.
What made this so big was that by Polish law, every single use of sirens must be pre-announced nationwide by city authorities and media outlets, along with the reason for the launch of sirens.
This requirement resulted in the spread of news about the climate crisis and the significance of COP26. Like never before, tabloids, religious, and state media spoke with the same voice and reported about the importance of UN COP26.
Getting attention — and results
Millions turned to search engines to find out what the emergency was — and traffic spiked to climate change stories everywhere.
As a result, Climate Alert garnered 500 million global impressions within a week and broke many Internet bubbles. Zielona.Gazeta.pl alone observed a 50% bump in monthly unique users.
The results were impressive:
- 500,000,000 global impressions.
- 300,000,000 national impressions.
- 21,000,000 reach.
All we had to do was to come up with that one idea to try something different.