Over the last two months Hubbub UK has been working with DECC to create the #backclimateaction tweetathon which is today, Tuesday 25th November. Superficially this sounds like a simple task, but the reality has been different.

The first challenge has been cultural. The climate debate is highly politicised and it is a brave move for a government department to head out into the anarchic territories of Twitter with their name attached to a clear call for action. It will be intriguing to see how this pans out on the day. Will it be the hoped for constructive debate or will the lobby groups take it as an opportunity to lob more grenades in the direction of government?

The second challenge has been how to create a meaningful context for the debate. We decided to commission a public opinion poll to understand current public perception on climate change action. The results surprised me.

The first surprise was the strength of opinion that action needs to be taken now and cannot wait. A significant 73% of people felt that world leaders must urgently agree a global deal to tackle climate change. An equal number agreed that there would be benefits to taking action now whilst only 20% felt that things could be delayed a few years. This seems counter-intuitive as political leaders of all colours seem reluctant to come out strongly in favour of climate action. Perhaps a highly vocal minority is swaying political opinions away from what the mainstream seem to want.

The second surprise was the level of deep uncertainty as to how taking action on climate change would impact on daily lives. Just under a quarter of those surveyed did not know how climate change would affect them. This demonstrates the failure to successfully communicate climate change impacts to the mainstream. As with any period of significant change there will be winners and losers. An honest and open debate will help increase awareness and better prepare people for the changes scientists tell us are inevitable.

It was against the backdrop of the research that we structured the Tweetathon debate. It will be a day long relay with different timeslots for different themes. Under each theme there will be experts on hand to answer questions. We are encouraging organisations to share what they are doing, specifically highlighting how this will impact upon daily lives.

Again it will be interesting to see if we can break out from the usual suspects and create a wider debate. It is encouraging that government is seeking to fully understand the impact of the tweetathon and is using an external agency to measure wider impact. If this shows that the tweetathon has helped people understand the impact that climate change will have on their daily lives then it will have achieved its aim.