The team behind climate change blockbuster The Age of Stupid were showing their film all over the country, and quickly realised that they didn’t have a good answer to the question people asked after every screening: ‘What can I do to help?’.
People wanted to do something positive and practical that’d make a real difference. They wanted their own efforts to fit into a society-wide carbon-cutting effort, where everyone – from plumbers to prime ministers – helped to bring down the bits of Britain’s carbon footprint under their control. And they didn't want to have to wear sandals, except on really hot days.
We started simple: unite the whole of society around one goal – cut our carbon by 10% in 2010. When 10:10 launched on 1 September 2009, thousands of people and organisations joined in the first few hours. From housing estates to high streets, from the classroom to the cabinet room, the idea spread like wildfire.
That first year saw some real carbon-cutting heroics: businesses completely overhauled their travel policies, councils invested in super-efficient heating systems, parents got their kids switching lights off by giving them a share of the bill savings, British embassies around the world hit 40, 50 and even 60% by making smart use of video conferencing. Even the government got involved, saving £13m of public money on their energy bills.
But for every amazing result, there was another 10:10er whose heroic effort was blown off course by a cold winter, an unforseen trip abroad, or the fact that they’d already tackled the easy stuff years ago.
That’s when we realised it had always been about more than a number. 10:10 brought people together around an optimistic, can-do approach that makes amazing things happen. What if we could apply a bit of this magic to other pieces of the climate change puzzle?
By the end of 2011, the 10:10 community topped 100,000 people in 128 countries. Some were working on another year of carbon cutting, some got involved in our Lighter Later campaign for longer, lower-carbon evenings, while others helped their local schools raise money for solar panels.
Today, we run a range of projects – from hands-on energy saving advice to bright, bold community energy schemes – but they’re united by their positivity, ambition and razor-sharp practical focus.
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