Cross-sector initiative includes five-point action plan to decarbonise companies and operations right across the advertising industry value chain
Advertising has become the latest UK industry to join the net zero drive, today launching a sector-wide initiative to slash emissions from the development, production, and media placement of advertising over the next decade.
Dubbed Ad Net Zero, the strategy includes a five-point action plan for companies working across the sector to cut CO2 emissions within their own operations, while also working with production agencies, clients, and events' organisers to decarbonise wider sector practices with a view to achieving net zero carbon by 2030.
Led by the Advertising Association in partnership with the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) and the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA), the initiative launches today alongside a new report assessing the UK industry's climate impact and areas for action.
It estimates total UK advertising agency operational CO2 equivalent emissions exceed 84,000 tonnes per year, with around 42 per cent coming from energy use and 58 per cent resulting from business travel, mainly in the form of flights.
As a whole, the UK advertising industry could have a carbon footprint measuring up at close to one million tonnes, the report states.
As such, the industry bodies along with advertising think tank Credos are calling on all companies, clients and production firms involved in the sector to reduce travel, fossil fuel energy use, and waste in order to cut emissions.
Moreover, firms working in the sector should commit to measuring and reducing their climate impacts, while also working with clients and media agencies to develop lower carbon media plans, the plan says.
And, perhaps most crucially of all, the five-point plan urges advertisers to harness the power of their work and influence to promote more sustainable consumer choices and behaviours.
Keith Weed, president of the Advertising Association, said the climate emergency was the biggest challenge in our lifetimes, and that therefore "action is needed now, and for the long-term, to change the impact we are 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," he said. "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. It really is a case of All For None."
The report also highlights growing concern in the advertising industry about climate change, with some 71 per cent of those working in the industry quizzed as part of the report noting they are worried about the negative impacts of the sector on the environment.
The initiative builds on the on the launch of AdGreen in September, which aims to tackle the negative environmental impacts of TV and video advertising production by offering tools, services and expertise to help all professionals in the sector clean up their efforts.
Both initiatives are the result of work by leaders in companies such as Unilever, Sky, the Guardian, The Marketing Academy, and communications agency adam&eveDDB, among others.
James Best, chair of advertising's cross-sector Climate Action Working Group and industry think tank Credos, said there was widespread support to rapidly shift towards greener practices within the industry. "People across our sector want advertising to be part of the solution to the climate crisis, through the role it can play in influencing corporate policy and consumer behaviour, helping people make more sustainable choices in what they buy, use and do," he explained. "Our research has shown that for nine out of ten advertising professionals, knowing their organisation is taking climate action would improve their job satisfaction."