Sky, Unilever and the Guardian are joining forces with the Advertising Association (AA) and others to tackle the UK ad industry’s carbon footprint.
Together with the IPA and ISBA they are launching Ad Net Zero, an industry-wide call for immediate, collective action to help achieve net zero carbon emissions from the development, production and media placement of advertising by 2030.
Sky’s group chief marketing, corporate affairs and people officer, Debbie Klein, tells Marketing Week: “It is vital we all take responsibility for the carbon impact of our advertising. This action plan sets out very clearly how we can all make a difference through the way we work.”
To mark the launch of Ad Net Zero, the AA has published a report by its Climate Action Working Group with Credos, which outlines a five-point call-to-action, which it urges brands and agencies to sign up to.
It calls for companies to commit to cut their carbon emissions, primarily by reducing travel, fossil energy use and waste.
It urges advertisers, agencies and production companies to commit to measuring and reducing their impact with support from AdGreen, the initiative launched by the AA in September to eliminate the negative environmental impact of advertising production.
Brands and agencies are also being asked to use their advertising to promote more sustainable consumer choices and behaviours, while events organisers are being urged to build sustainability into awards and plan events to minimise their carbon footprint.
Lastly, media agencies are being urged to work with brands to commit to the IPA Media Futures Group Climate Charter and develop lower carbon media plans.
Action is needed now, and for the long-term, to change the impact we are all having on the planet we live on.
Keith Weed, AA
Unilever’s executive vice-president and general manager for the UK and Ireland, Sebastian Munden, tells Marketing Week: “This plan contains a simple, effective series of actions that every marketer can adopt and encourage everyone in their supply chain to work into their everyday practices.
“We need everyone working in advertising to measure and report their carbon impact and make the necessary changes to reduce it fast.”
The report estimates UK agencies produce 84,000 tonnes of operational CO2 emissions a year, with 42% of that coming from energy use and 58% from business travel. On the same basis, it estimates the industry as a whole could have a carbon footprint of nearer a million tons.
AA president Keith Weed describes the climate emergency as “the biggest challenge we will face in our lifetimes, dwarfing the current Covid-19 crisis”.
He says: “Action is needed now, and for the long-term, to change the impact we are all having on the planet we live on. We need every company and individual in our industry to join us and become an active supporter of Ad Net Zero.
“Every single one of us has a role to play in ensuring our industry fulfils its responsibilities to future generations and help deliver a sustainable way of life for the 21st century and beyond.”
Ad Net Zero is built on the work of the AA’s Climate Action Working Group. The group was set up a year ago to assess the current response of the advertising industry to the climate crisis and recommend practical steps to carbon neutrality for the businesses at its core.
The initiative was developed with input from leaders at adam&eveDDB, APA, W&K, Credos, PPA, Iris, Adjust Your Set, PRCA, The Marketing Society, The Marketing Academy and Mindshare, in addition to Unilever, Sky and the Guardian.