Is Adland doing enough to combat climate change? | M&M Global

Is Adland doing enough to combat climate change?

“Climate change is the greatest threat to our existence in our short history on this planet. Nobody’s going to buy their way out of its effects.” Mark Ruffalo, Actor and Climate Change Activist

The advertising sector is attempting to come to the rescue. In November 2020 the Advertising Association launched its Ad Net Zero initiative, pushing environmental sustainability to the top of the agenda. More than 80 brands, agencies, media owners, tech platforms and trade bodies have signed up, with the aim of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Cutting back on the use of plastic and energy in the office, reducing business travel, changing the location of and the way ads are shot, and offsetting emissions – for example by funding tree-planting – are among the tactics being used to reach the goal.

Yet despite these efforts, the sector faces major stumbling blocks in pursuit of “green” credentials. Agencies have faced public criticism from lobbying groups, which are calling for them to boycott fossil fuel companies. Brands are having their ads pulled by the regulator for overstating their sustainability efforts (“greenwashing). Many brands want to jump on the “green bandwagon” by producing ads that promote their own sustainable practice. But if they mislead customers by overstating their green credentials they will be found out by customers. In addition, not all agencies can adapt at the same speed, meaning some risk being left behind.

Earth Day (22nd April) was created to educate and advocate for the protection of our environment, but it our sector it has also become a day for promo codes and planet-themed product lines. Those that use the day to drive sales rather than impact miss the opportunity to lead. What we need is action.  This year’s Earth Day theme, Invest in Our Planet, is a direct call for businesses to act now.

Afterall actions speak louder then words, here at Festival of Media one of the ways we are doing our part is through the creation of the recently launched Cause Campaign Awards, ‘Planet’ one of the umbrella themes of this programme, which will celebrate campaigns created to help save the planet’s natural resources, which could be focused around, but not limited to, everything from cleaning up oceans and preserving forests to protecting wildlife and educating on climate change.

There’s some brilliant work out there, and we look forward to helping to amplify their messages not just today on Earth Day, but rather in the 364 days that follow. As after all there’s no planet b.

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