Sustainability Brand Safety Greenwashing

Conscious Advertising Network under spotlight over funder’s links to fossil fuels


By Ellen Ormesher | Senior Reporter

June 30, 2023 | 4 min read

The advertising coalition was among a number of climate-focused groups that accepted funding from the Quadrature Climate Foundation, which has been linked to $170m stakes in fossil fuels.

fossil fuel

Conscious Ad Network has over 180 members across ad and tech industry / Pexels

The Conscious Advertising Network has vowed it will quiz a company it took significant annual financial grants from following an investigation into its connection to fossil fuel companies. However, it will not return the grant money it has already accepted.

The Conscious Advertising Network currently has over 180 members, including advertisers, agencies, tech firms and civil society groups, and advocates for the industry to ”break the economic link” between advertising and harmful content, including companies linked to climate change and misinformation.

The Guardian revealed today that one of the network’s backers, the Quadrature Climate Foundation, is owned by Quadrature Capital, which has stakes of $170m in oil and gas firms. It also found that groups including the European Climate Foundation, The Carbon Tracker Initiative and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have taken millions of pounds in grants from the foundation over the last two years.

Jake Dubbins, co-founder of the Conscious Advertising Network, told The Drum that the foundation was one of its first funders. “We receive yearly grants from it to cover some of our staff salaries and things like our laptops,” he says, which allowed the non-profit to pursue its mission.

He adds that the Conscious Advertising Network does due diligence and checks its funders. “We look at the source of the funding, who else is funded by the organization and what its allegiances are. We will be looking into that process in light of this article.”

Quadrature told The Guardian: “Climate change is already pushing many parts of the world beyond critical temperature tipping points, with uncertain and potentially severe consequences, particularly for the poorest and most vulnerable countries.” Dubbins adds: “Our work demonstrates that we share these values.”

He confirms that, in light of the implications, the Conscious Advertising Network will not be returning the grant money it has received as it cannot do so “without ceasing to exist,” but makes clear that it will be following up with the Quadrature Climate Foundation about what has happened, saying: “This is new information for us.”

The Guardian identified the Conscious Advertising Network as an initiative by the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (Isba) that aims to “decarbonize the advertising industry”. However, Isba stressed to The Drum that while it is a member, it does not fund the network and understands that the Conscious Advertising Network is in contact with the Quadrature Climate Foundation.

Dubbins confirmed: “We do not take funding from members in order to retain an independent voice that represents advertisers, agencies and civil society with one voice to work together on some of the biggest issues of a generation.”

The Drum approached several members of the Conscious Advertising Network, which includes Nationwide, Innocent, GroupM and Omnicom, for comment, but had not received a response at the time of writing.

Sustainability Brand Safety Greenwashing

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