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UK Ad Industry Targets Net Zero Carbon Emissions with Ad Net Zero

Tim Cross  18 November, 2020

UK advertiser trade bodies ISBA, the Advertising Association, and the IPA have teamed up for ‘Ad Net Zero’, an industry initiative which aims to reach net zero carbon emissions from the UK ad industry by 2030.

Ad Net Zero will target carbon emission produced by the development, production, and media placement of advertising. A report from the AA, produced in partnership with UK advertising think tank Credos, estimates that total UK agency operational CO2 emissions exceed 84,000 tonnes per year.

The initiative lays out five actions agencies should take to contribute to the effort.

The first is ‘getting your house in order’, whereby agencies cut emissions from their own day-to-day business operations. The majority of these emissions (around 60 percent ) are created by business travel, with the remainder generated by office energy use. Ad Net Zero says businesses should measure their carbon footprint, and offset whatever can’t be eliminated through carbon removal schemes.

The second action is cutting emissions from advertising production. Ad Net Zero points to AdGreen, a separate initiative launched by agencies, which gives tools and resources to help cut emissions from the production process.

The third action is cutting emissions from media planning and buying. Media agencies signing up to the Ad Net Zero initiative will be encouraged to also sign up to the IPA Media Futures Group’s Climate Charter, a set of principles for deciding media placement based on its environmental impact. This involves working with publishers and broadcasters which have taken steps to reduce emissions from their own production processes.

The fourth action is cutting emissions generated by events and awards shows. Companies which run awards shows will be encouraged to consider the environmental impact of campaigns in their judging process, and for all events planners to curtail the necessity of long-distance travel where possible.

And the final action will be for the industry to use its influence to support consumer behaviour change.

The three trade bodies hope that through these efforts, the industry will be able to make a significant change to its own carbon footprint. And the research commissioned by the AA finds that climate change is high up the industry’s agenda. Seventy-one percent of people working across the industry say they are worried about the negative impacts of the industry on the environment, and more report that they want their agencies to take action against climate change.

“Despite the immediacy of the situation we are all living through, the climate emergency remains the most significant and complex challenge facing humanity,” said James Barge, director of public policy at ISBA. “I’m incredibly proud, on behalf of ISBA, to have had the opportunity to work as part of the Climate Action Working Group in seeking to reduce the impact advertising has on our planet and, in doing so, deliver a framework for meaningful and lasting change.”

“Ad Net Zero is just that,” he said. “It quantifies the challenge and charts the course for us all in reaching a target of ‘real net zero’ by the end of 2030. Now it’s time for us all – advertiser, agency, media owner – to accept the challenge, begin the journey and lead the world.”

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