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The Influencers

Let’s Get Advertising Tracking to Real Net Zero Now

Stephen Woodford, chief executive of the Advertising Association, outlines the action companies need to take to help UK advertising achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030

Let’s Get Advertising Tracking to Real Net Zero Now

On the same day the UK Government launched its 10-point plan for the Green Industrial Revolution, we launched the new Ad Net Zero initiative in partnership with the IPA and ISBA. It’s an industry-wide initiative to help UK advertising respond to the climate crisis caused by CO2 emissions. The aim is for advertising to become a more sustainable and climate-conscious industry, ready to face the environmental challenges of the future.  

Ad Net Zero is calling for immediate, collective industry action to help achieve real net zero carbon emissions from the development, production and media placement of advertising by the end of 2030. We see this as a whole industry movement. Every business, whatever its size, and all advertising professionals including the many freelancers working in our industry all have a vital role to play in securing a greener, more sustainable future. But when we say action, what do we mean? What can you do?

The first thing is for you and your company to sign up as a supporter of Ad Net Zero and you can do that easily via our Ad Net Zero page on the AA’s website. In simple terms, becoming a supporter means you agree with the aims and will take part in a survey to help us track the progress of our industry on its journey to real net zero. We ask companies for a small donation to help fund this activity, specifically the tracking and reporting of progress.

The next thing is to get your hands on the report, which again, you can do at our site, in exchange for an email. Inside, you’ll find a 2-page check-list of actions which our Climate Action Groups have worked on to make things as tangible and practical as possible.

Looking at this check-list, you will see just how interdependent we all are across the advertising supply chain, from advertiser through to their agencies and freelancer staff, their tech service providers and their media owners. It really is a case of all for none, as we each take the responsibility for our own elements of the creation, production and distribution of advertising and encourage our partners to do the same.

Our goal is for this check-list to become a natural part of the work our industry works and for us to embed these principles in the daily working lives of all advertising and marketing services professionals. 

Many of the actions are simple. We are encouraging everyone to reduce business travel, fossil energy use and waste. Ad Net Zero also calls on advertisers, agencies and production companies to commit to measuring and reducing their impacts with support from the likes of AdGreen.

The COVID pandemic has taught us how it is possible to operate remotely, so the Ad Net Zero guidance includes thinking about promoting the use of virtual video villages to remote monitor shoots and considering the use of local crew, talent and directors. Another aspect is training (again, such as that as offered by AdGreen) which can be delivered to help educate colleagues about sustainable production. 

We can all learn from each other, so Ad Net Zero is also encouraging every advertising professional to welcome and support suggestions from your partner organisations about how production emissions can be reduced, and report and record the carbon footprint of all final productions.

Our ambition is for the full breadth of the UK advertising industry to work together to drive carbon-curbing policies to strengthen and extend our response to the climate challenge. Recognising our own – as well as our industry’s – role and responsibility in taking positive action on climate change is vital.  By recognising and adapting the way we work, we will be able to change our industry for the better. This movement that will not only benefit us and our industry, but society and, most importantly, our world. 

I encourage anybody who wants to know more to visit our Ad Net Zero page, watch the launch event, get a copy of the report and pledge your support.


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