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Environmental Adverising

Cutting carbon emissions: What are the best ideas that companies have come up with so far?



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December 4, 2023 | 4 min read

Reducing carbon emissions is a core goal for the advertising industry - digital advertising included

Many companies (including IAB UK) are Ad Net Zero supporters and have pledged to achieve net zero by 2030. Achieving this means embracing each other’s ideas, learning from one another and working together like never before. At the IAB, we have recently launched Environmental Sustainability FAQs for our members to help improve transparency and accountability in this space - you can find out more and get involved here.

With COP 28 taking place between 30 November - 12 December, we have asked some of the companies that have so far submitted to the FAQs to share the single best idea or initiative they have seen from another company to help tackle climate change.

Co-op’s community fridges

Pamela Stathaki (head of sustainability & social impact, UK & EMEA, Dentsu): “The net-zero transition requires multi-stakeholder collaboration. Co-op’s community fridges initiative with food waste charity Hubbub, which redistributes surplus food to people in need, is a fantastic example of this.
"The net-zero transition is also dependent upon human and societal behavior change. Advertising can change the way people think, feel and act to drive the demand to a sustainable economy. Our industry can make lower carbon products desirable, like second-hand furniture in IKEA's 'Green Friday' campaign, which ultimately helps the consumer, the business and society.”

Clear Channel UK’s bee bus tops

Emma Newman (CRO EMEA, PubMatic): “I love what Clear Channel UK have done with their Bee Bus Stop initiative. This ticks a number of boxes for me, enabling cities to become more sustainable and eco-friendly by supporting one of the most important creatures to our planet – the humble bee.”

Heineken’s work stands out

Lauren White (director, client partnerships, “Heineken’s global sustainability efforts have been encouraging, achieving an 18% reduction in Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions since 2018. Their strategy employs a multifaceted approach that includes 130 renewable energy projects, dynamic creative optimizations, and they have claimed five of the world’s largest on-site solar-powered breweries - alongside advancements in farming and ingredient sourcing.”

Amazon’s carbon reduction initiatives are colossal

Chris Scott (managing director ‑ media, Focus Agency Group): “Amazon’s global initiatives in carbon reduction are colossal. This includes investing in wind and solar capacity equivalent to powering all Echo, Fire TV, and Ring devices globally by 2025, highlighting their commitment to sustainability throughout product lifecycles. Their accelerated timeline to power all operations, including advertising, with 100% renewable energy by 2025 - five years ahead of their initial goal - further demonstrates their dedication.”

BBC World’s commitment is unabating

Laura McNally (marketing director, Auto Trader): “BBC World’s commitment to covering climate change is unabating and their broadcasts demonstrate integrity and passion for the planet. Their global program ‘The Climate Question’ delves into a diverse range of takes on it, enabling understanding and the steps being taken around the world to respond to it. They balance hardcore investigation and realism with the sense of hope we need to take action.”

Scope 3 = an effective route to carbon reduction

Milica Lukic (account director & UK ESG champion, Adform):Scope3’s emissions analytics are very impressive. Its carbon tracking tool, which has been integrated into leading Demand-Side Platforms, enables users to measure their advertising footprint across media. This creates an effective route to carbon reduction by allowing media planners to review, plan and optimize their campaigns directly within the DSP - ensuring delivery with reduced emissions but without reduced performance.”

More than a single idea

Marion Cardona (COO & co-founder, Impact+): “Rather than one single idea, the biggest difference to emissions will come through ongoing, long-term, consistent changes to the way advertisers plan, buy and distribute their digital ad campaigns. There are several ways advertisers can reduce emissions, and only through continuous measurement, evaluation and optimisation over a long period will we be able to seriously tackle adland’s oversized carbon footprint.”

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