- Ad Net Zero said that the advertising industry is producing mixed results in efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, according to a recently released review of the global climate action program’s U.S., U.K. and global supporter base.
- Based on publicly available information and insights shared by Ad Net Zero’s backers, the report reveals that 100% of tech platforms have set both net-zero and near-term reduction targets. Meanwhile, 88% of participating advertisers have set net-zero targets and 100% have set near-term targets.
- However, just 35% of supporting creative and advertising agencies have set net-zero targets, though 54% have set near-term targets. Similarly, only 34% of production companies have set both net-zero and near-term targets, pointing to an imbalance in the level of commitment across various pockets of the industry.
Ad Net Zero in June issued a requirement that all of its industry partners set science-based net zero carbon targets within a year. Using data compiled through September, the group’s new review shows just how far its partners — and the industry at large — have to go.
“Whilst we take a moment to recognize progress, none of it is enough. Not even close,” wrote Ad Net Zero Chair Sebastian Munden in a forward to the report. “I urge you to reflect on where your business is in the context of this data and think about the impact you can have to change the way we work and change the work we make.”
While there have been clear steps made to address the issue by brands, the sluggish uptake of standards among agencies and production companies is creating a ripple effect down the marketing-communications supply chain. The report calls out these laggards, noting that slow adoption by agencies was a significant reason for setting the partnership requirements earlier this year.
The report also notes that media owners — only 25% of whom have set net-zero targets — have an outsized responsibility to set and reach those goals. Estimates published by WPP indicated that media planning and buying could account for up to 54% of total emissions across all scopes of its business.
To that end, Ad Net Zero has created a five-point action plan to help its partners set and achieve their goals. The guide targets five areas of focus to reduce emissions and reach net-zero targets faster:
- Business operations, which includes setting and achieving net-zero targets
- Production, particularly by cutting back on travel and transport, which account for the most emissions generated of all monitored activities
- Media planning and buying, including creating a standard methodology for measuring emissions from media campaigns.
- Awards and other events through developing partnerships with the major industry groups and award bodies to highlight small carbon footprint campaigns.
- Harnessing advertising’s power to foment widespread consumer behavior change.
The report concluded with a call for the industry to prioritize emission reduction as a whole and a note of disappointment by the low profile of climate change at major industry events and a lack of “critical evaluation” of the industry’s impact on the environment.