The Government took a new approach in its campaign to change public attitudes to tackling climate change. It announced the winners of Defra's Climate Challenge Fund, where 53 projects from across England will attempt to raise awareness at regional and local level of the urgent need to tackle climate change.

The total funding for the projects is £4.6 million. Among the projects are the Scouts who will be encouraging members to "Be Prepared for the Future", while the Women’s Institute will develop EcoTeams to help bring home the realities of climate change.

Launching the initiative during a visit to one of the North West regional winners – Sustainability Northwest – Environment Secretary David Miliband highlighted the importance of developing new and innovative ways of tackling the greatest environment challenge. He said he was pleased with the number, variety and quality of the applications received.

“Climate change affects all of us and I believe that today’s successful projects will reach new audiences and communities at national, regional and local level and shift people’s opinions in favour of action to tackle climate change. “Government is playing its part and giving the lead in tackling climate change. But we will not succeed without the support and active participation of all sectors of society”.

Sustainability Northwest won a £40,000 grant to raise awareness of climate change among ethnic minority businesses in the region. The project aims to produce an awareness raising booklet, spread information through business support events, the internet and newsletters.

Speaking during a visit to one of the West Midlands winners, Winterbourne Botanic Garden, Environment Minister Ian Pearson added that the solution to climate change was in the hands of everyone – businesses, citizens and consumers. “We are trying through this new and innovative Fund to reach audiences who have not yet understood or accepted that climate change presents a real challenge requiring immediate action to tackle it,” he explained.

Winterbourne Botanic Garden’s project hopes to communicate the impact of climate change in a domestic garden setting, targeting over 65s. The garden, in Edgbaston, Birmingham, will use its £10,000 funding from Defra as a model to demonstrate climate change issues. A further 32 projects submitted to Defra’s Climate Challenge Fund, worth in the region of an additional £4 million, have been provisionally accepted subject to further negotiation.

The Fund was set up to provide financial support for communications projects across a full range of media, seeking to achieve positive changes in public attitudes about climate change. Defra received more than 500 applications from across England totalling nearly £60 million worth of bids.