By Jo Elliott, Senior Account Manager

Next month COP26, the 26th United Nationals Climate Change Conference, will take place in Glasgow, uniting countries to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The lead up to this is an important moment for the communications industry to reflect on our role to make, and influence change.

Last year when the nation’s sweetheart and immensely respected nature broadcaster, David Attenborough, joined Instagram he had more than 200,000 followers within an hour of his first post and 1.2million followers by the afternoon.

His reason for joining the social network was clear, “Saving our planet is now a communications challenge”. 

Brands should be focused on reducing their operational carbon footprint, but the communications industry must also produce campaigns that measurably generate less carbon. A real driver for this change is the requirement for carbon footprint reporting to be included within company audits by 2025. Businesses, and the agencies supporting them, need to harness the power of communications to change consumer behaviour (for good), without greenwashing.

In recent years the marketing community has launched several initiatives such as Ad Net Zero but to make impactful change on scale, businesses need to understand the intersection of their brand, customer, and the impact they can achieve. Skincare company Kiehls is a fantastic example of a brand committed to transparent sustainability communications, including a glossary on its brand sustainability page giving consumers complete clarity on its environmental impact.

In the B2B world communicating the sustainability agenda and achievements of a business might seem more daunting, but there are three simple steps to follow:

Inescapably, you need to start by taking some action on climate change
Dependent on the business size and industry, this might involve reducing the carbon emissions of production processes, greener or innovating new products to help customers reduce their carbon footprint. The time to act is now and every change will make a difference to the future of our planet

Shout about it
This step shouldn’t be viewed as a PR opportunity to improve brand awareness, but a genuine action to motivate customers, partners and employees to join the journey. Explore how the action taken aligns with your businesses values, is genuine, and connects to the health of the planet. When communicating these stories think of the impact on business and/or society this change has had.

Back it up
Sustainability initiatives mustn’t be a one-time event, supply chains, production lines, product innovation, business operations, every corner of your B2B business needs regular and consistent reviews in place dedicated to constantly evolving the sustainability of your business. Many B2B businesses share annual sustainability reports with customers and partners, ensuring they are holding themselves accountable to meet the green objectives they set out with and measure impact over time

For decades conversations have taken place on the quickening pace of climate change, the melting glaciers, the extinction of species, and the death of coral reefs and yet as a collective, our behaviour hasn’t changed much. The role of communication, as Attenborough said, is now to spread the most important message we as a species have ever had to give or receive.


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