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UK initiative to make all ads net-zero by 2030 sets sights on rest of the world

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By Ellen Ormesher | Reporter

June 21, 2022 | 4 min read

Leaders from many of the largest companies and associations in the world’s advertising industry have announced their intent to roll-out the Ad Net Zero pledge internationally to major markets.

ad net zero

The Ad Net Zero program was launched in the UK in November 2020/ Image via the Advertising Association

The Ad Net Zero program was launched in the UK in November 2020 by the Advertising Association, the ISBA and the IPA as a way to reduce the carbon impact of advertising. It counts over 100 brands, agencies, commercial media owners and production companies in its membership.

The focus of the new, international Ad Net Zero group – announced at the Cannes Lions festival today (June 21) – will be to rapidly establish plans for roll-out in major advertising markets with an immediate focus on the US and the EU, working in partnership with the UK team.

The world’s major advertising agency holding companies, along with Unilever, global tech companies Google and Meta, plus European media company Sky, will be supported by US, European and global trade bodies in the venture.

The Ad Net Zero five-point action plan pledges to reduce the carbon emissions from UK advertising operations to net-zero by 2030, with businesses committing to robust, verified plans to reduce their emissions. It also pledges to use the power of advertising to accelerate the switch to more sustainable products and services for consumers. The UK program provides a roadmap for development in other markets, with the flexibility to adapt and develop-market specific solutions. It offers tools readily available internationally, like the AdGreen carbon calculator to help measure and reduce emissions from advertising production.

It does not, however, include guidance on working with clients in the fossil fuel and high-carbon industries, which has been at the forefront of criticism against the industry, including by a Greenpeace activist who took to the stage at last night’s opening ceremony.

Phil Thomas, chairman of Cannes Lions, said: “The Advertising Association in the UK has worked tirelessly to create Ad Net Zero, which has huge support from the UK industry, and we are delighted to partner with it to bring this critical initiative to Cannes Lions in order to gather together global players to commit to its simple but powerful aim: of all ads being net-zero by 2030. Nothing could be more important for our industry.”

Meanwhile, Stephan Loerke, chief executive of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), has said climate change is the “defining issue of our age”.

He explained: “Marketers have a key role to play in persuading consumers to adopt behaviors that lead to a more sustainable future. The international launch of Ad Net Zero is a crucial first step in terms of getting our own house in order and ensuring its own operations go net-zero”

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