On day two of the Ad Net Zero forum addressing the UK industry’s response to the climate change crisis, the Advertising Association called on individuals from companies who have tangible ways to make a difference. The speakers from Credos, the Engine Group, CAP and AdGreen shared their very own guides and calculators to support companies with achieving realistic, sustainable change.
The overarching message was around travel and its damaging impact on the environment, specifically looking at flights, transport and air miles that do more damage than you may think. Konrad Shek, director of policy at Credos, shared the two most significant contributors, “It will come as no surprise that the two largest culprits of CO2 emissions are business travel, which make up 46% and electricity, just 40% of the total emissions. These preliminary results seem to be broadly reflective of the findings of our early Ad Net Zero report published in November 2020.”
Though the Credos findings encompass data from 2020, they expect 2021 data to show an uptake in business travel as borders open and countries become ever more accessible. “One of the key learnings for the pandemic here is that virtual calls are a viable substitution for face to face contact. Admittedly, virtual calls do have their limitations. But if concepts like the metaverse are fully realised that maybe those limitations may be overcome, but for the time being, it's not a complete substitution,” said Konrad.
A shocking figure from AdGreen - calculated through Mike Berners-Lee’s How Bad Are Bananas guide - shows that simply changing seats from business to economy reduces emissions by 60%. What was clear from both the Credos and AdGreen representatives, was that flying economy should be considered as a real alternative for companies that consistently travel internationally.
James Best, chairman, CAP and Credos shared the Ad Net Zero Essentials Guide which aims to support the advertising industry in its efforts toward sustainability. “The guide is what we've loosely called ‘advertising businesses’ by which we mean all types of agencies - creative media, direct promotional PR, specialist or generalist plus others for whom outcomes are the core business, commercial film production, digital production, ad tech, all sorts.” This encompassing guide, “is intended to help you get started on the path to net-zero for your own operations, as well as along the supply chain of advertising that you either control or at least influence,” said James.
Rachel Boland, head of sustainability, Engine Group UK explained the importance of a designated green team, data collection and a shared understanding to support sustainable ventures. “I would say the gathering of data is absolutely imperative and having somebody heading up the sustainability team efficiently is invaluable. They will help you gather that data in a way that makes it more straightforward. And it also just helps in building those relationships with your suppliers and helping them to increasingly appreciate the understanding of what you need in order to move it to move forward in a more sustainable way.” She continued, “It is a process it does take time but once you have it in place, and once it becomes the norm, then then it will get easier and as time goes on. It is definitely worth doing.”
The talk then encompassed AdGreen and its calculator which aims to enable the advertising community to measure and reduce carbon emissions from production. “At AdGreen we unite the advertising industry to eliminate the negative environmental or environmental impacts of production,” said Jo Coombes, project director at AdGreen. “In September this year, so just a couple of months ago, we introduced the carbon calculator. This tool allows production teams to collaboratively measure carbon footprints for campaign projects, and for brands and production consultants to review the information too. So really collaboratively trying to get everyone involved in this conversation.
“As of yesterday (3 November) morning, we had 100 agencies 140 production companies set up to measure and over 540 users registered to use that tool as well to input and review information.” She went on to say, “There are four key areas in the tool so the calculator works by allowing users to enter information for their production in four key activity areas. Transport, spaces, materials and disposal. So they can build a picture of their carbon impacts of production and work together to reduce it.”