AA forms action groups to tackle climate crisis

Trade bodies, agencies and advertisers will be represented.

Lush: closed its stores last September as part of a climate strike
Lush: closed its stores last September as part of a climate strike

The Advertising Association has created two groups to act on climate change in partnership with fellow industry trade bodies and advertising companies.

Working in partnership with ISBA and the IPA, the AA has launched the the Climate Action Steering Group and the Climate Action Working Group.

Members include creative agencies Adam & Eve/DDB and Wieden & Kennedy London, media owners The Guardian and Sky, and Mindshare, the WPP media agency.

Climate change has risen up the industry agenda in recent years amid scientific research warning that the planet is heating to dangerous levels as a result of human pollution. Several brands took part in last September's Global Climate Strike – Lush, Channel 4 and SodaStream – along with agencies W&K, Amplify and Don't Panic.

The groups will focus on three areas initially:

  1. Producing a report to measure the UK advertising industry’s current carbon footprint and what businesses are doing to reduce it.

  2. Developing options for "more ambitious collective action" by the industry, particularly in encouraging an "increasing presence of more sustainable products, services, messaging and behaviours in advertising".

  3. Supporting the Advertising Standards Authority’s plan for exploring the role that advertising regulation can play in response to concerns about climate change and the human impact on the environment. 

The steering group will be chaired by AA vice-chair Sebastian Munden, who is Unilever UK & Ireland’s executive vice-president and general manager. The group comprises representatives of all the major companies and organisations in the industry (including the Marketing Society, the Marketing Academy and the Public Relations and Communications Association).

From March it will meet every six months and will focus on driving "the widest possible engagement with initiatives to meet the industry’s goals" across every part of the marketing, media and advertising communities. 

Meanwhile, the working group will be chaired by James Best, chairman of the Committee of Advertising Practice and Credos. It will meet monthly to work on the delivery of the CASG’s vision and objectives and make recommendations on how these are achieved.

Its first major strand of work will be the production of a Carbon Footprint Annual Report, which will establish a benchmark for the industry and share best practice. The report is to be published before the UN’s climate change conference, COP 26, in Glasgow in November. 

Stephen Woodford, chief executive of the AA, said: "We are clear on the role we want our industry to play in helping the UK economy move as fast as it can to Net Zero [emissions]. 

"Advertising accelerates behaviour change and can be a real force for helping drive sustainable growth and social good. We saw this happening in 2019 with fantastic initiatives like #ChangeTheBrief. With ideas like this and many, many more, we have the opportunity to make a massive impact through the right action over the years ahead of us."

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