Climate Change Gen Z Brand Strategy

How TikTok can mobilize young people to take climate action

By Rob Greenfield, Account Director



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

Find out more

November 14, 2022 | 8 min read

Can we count on TikTok in the climate fight? Rob Greenfield of 33Seconds argues that the app can drive advocacy for the planet among young people, catapulting them to the frontline of the climate movement.

Woman with sign at climate protest

Instead of aimless doomscrolling, what if TikTok can be used to spur action for climate change? / Callum Shaw via Unsplash

Another year, another chance to save the planet at Cop27. As the delegates continue their discussions, I can’t help but think back to the missed opportunity of Cop26 – in particular, listening and responding to the voices of young people.

Last year, I was invited to represent the UK at Coy16 - the UN Climate Change Conference of Youth - which took place before the main event in Glasgow. There I met young people from around the world, who were inspired, enraged and passionate about fighting the climate crisis. Many of them were from countries where extreme climate events are commonplace.

I spoke to someone from the Philippines, whose village had been wiped out by a typhoon. This is life or death, something many politicians and business leaders at Cop26 seemed to struggle to truly grasp.

As conferences and discussions come and go, young people’s climate worries do not. The first global study of climate anxiety among children & young people found 59% of respondents were very or extremely worried about the climate crisis; 84% were at least moderately worried. More than 50% reported feeling sad, anxious, angry, and powerless. How do we turn these feelings into positive action?

Young people are more interconnected and aware of the world than any previous generation, helped by their active engagement on social media. They spend hours on platforms like TikTok, digesting popular culture, news and life advice. The average user opens TikTok 19 times a day and spends around 75 minutes on the app, which is almost double that of the average Instagram user. If this time is spent doomscrolling it could be deemed unhealthy, but if this engagement can be used for good, what role could TikTok play in empowering young people and mobilizing them to create positive change?

Here at 33Seconds, we created TikTok eco-community Earthtopia as a way to drive conversations around the climate crisis and engage with young people, cutting through the doom and gloom and reminding them that not all is lost if we continue to take action.

Our content shines a light on the solutions, organizations and actions that are having a positive impact on the planet. From this, we’ve built an incredibly engaged community with a 12% average engagement rate (that’s double TikTok’s average). Here are three examples of how we did it.

Good news

The imagery of wildfires, droughts, floods and deforestation are commonplace, whereas climate solutions are harder to find. Our weekly roundup of ‘environment wins’ is consistently our most engaged-with content, sometimes hitting an 18% engagement rate.

The good news can be anything, from Tasmania becoming carbon negative, to scientists discovering how waxworm saliva disintegrates plastic; young people are used to feeling anxious about the climate, so positive content offers them hope and a way forward.

Eco hacks

Scientific reports can be hard to digest and difficult to relate back to everyday life. As communicators, it’s our job to convert long lists and complex information into engaging bitesize chunks. Content with tangible actions you can take each day, adding up to a big difference, is the most likely to encourage engagement – for example sustainable food hacks to reduce impact and waste, or how to shop in a more climate-friendly way.

Suggested newsletters for you

Daily Briefing


Catch up on the most important stories of the day, curated by our editorial team.

Ads of the Week


See the best ads of the last week - all in one place.

The Drum Insider

Once a month

Learn how to pitch to our editors and get published on The Drum.


This may seem obvious, but this isn’t about jumping on every trend to stay current. Instead, offer a new angle that is relevant to your community or cause. When TikTok superstar Addison Rae got 95m views for a WAP video, we took it as an opportunity to mobilize people into following us, as we were trying to help the planet but only had 10k followers. The results? Our video got 790k likes, 4.2m views and saw our community triple in size.

Mobilizing the masses to act on the climate crisis is still a work in progress, but platforms such as TikTok offer an opportunity to tap into a young, enthusiastic and increasingly important user base. By highlighting climate solutions and tangible eco actions, and linking it all to current events and trends, social platforms can be used for good by truly engaging with this audience and encouraging them to turn climate anxiety into positive action.

Climate Change Gen Z Brand Strategy

Content by The Drum Network member:


33Seconds is an independent, award-winning communications agency, specialising in climate, technology and lifestyle.

As well as offering services across strategy,...

Find out more

More from Climate Change

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +