The British advertising industry has launched a new initiative that aims to achieve carbon net zero over the next decade.

The project, Ad Net Zero, is backed by the Advertising Association (AA), along with the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising IPA, and the Incorporated Society of British advertisers (ISBA). 

Its mission is to bring about collective, industry-wide action to cut carbon emissions associated with advertising, across the whole process of development, production and media placement, in order to make the industry carbon neutral by the end of 2030.

To mark the launch of the initiative, the AA has published a Climate Action Working Group with Credos, UK advertising’s think tank, in which it calculates the industry as a whole could be generating a carbon footprint approaching one million tonnes a year, with agencies alone producing more than 84,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.

Credos estimates 42% of that comes from energy usage, and 58% from business travel, with the biggest single contributor being flights.

The report sets out the projects five-point call-to-action plan for all businesses signing up to the initiative:

All companies should commit to reducing emissions by cutting fossil fuel use, travelling less and producing less waste; advertisers and agencies to measure the effects of their emissions reduction; media agencies to work with clients to develop lower-carbon media plans; organisers of awards and events to include sustainability criteria into awards and plan events to minimize carbon footprints, in particular from travel; agencies and clients use the power of advertising to promote sustainable consumer choices and behaviour.

Concern about the climate crisis is shared across the industry, the report notes, with some 71% of people working in the sector worried about the negative effects the industry is having on the environment.

Keith Weed, President, Advertising Association, said: “The Climate Emergency is the biggest challenge we will face in our lifetimes, dwarfing the current COVID-19 crisis. 

“Action is needed now, and for the long-term, to change the impact we are all having on the planet we live on. We need every company and individual in our industry to join us and become an active supporter of Ad Net Zero. Every single one of us has a role to play in ensuring our industry fulfils its responsibilities to future generations and help deliver a sustainable way of life for the 21st century and beyond. It really is a case of All For None.”

The AA, IPA, ISBA; additional content by WARC staff