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Global Advertising Industry Implements New Carbon Calculation Framework

A coalition of businesses, including the world’s six largest advertising holding firms, has supported the launch of a new industry-wide voluntary standard for measuring and disclosing greenhouse gas emissions. This pioneering effort marks a significant advancement in the fight against climate change within the advertising industry.


The 'Global Media Sustainability Framework' aims to revolutionise how emissions are calculated for TV, digital, and out-of-home advertising. These media types, which accounted for over 80% of global advertising spend last year, have been prioritised within this initiative. In the coming months, emissions formulas for audio, print, and cinema advertising will also be introduced.


Released this month, the Framework provides detailed emissions accounting formulas for the operations and value chain associated with TV, digital, and out-of-home advertising. It also includes a standardised data request form to facilitate efficient data collection and a shared disclosure form to help businesses identify suitable sustainability solutions providers.


Furthermore, the Framework outlines a streamlined process for businesses to disclose data to the organisations behind this initiative—Ad Net Zero and the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM). The aim is to create a centralised system to validate emissions data and promote data sharing between buyers and sellers, with further updates expected in early 2025.


Ad Net Zero, an industry-wide initiative led by the Advertising Association, focuses on achieving deep decarbonisation in advertising by the end of 2030 within the UK. GARM, established by the World Federation of Advertisers, operates on a global scale and addresses broader sustainability issues, including content that may contribute to social harm.


Over the past 12 months, these two organisations have collaborated closely to develop the new Framework. This process included contributions from some of the world’s largest media brands, as well as climate scientists and sustainability professionals from major corporations such as Diageo, Reckitt, Unilever, and PwC.


Sebastian Munden, Chair of Ad Net Zero, hailed the release of these standard calculations as a significant milestone for both the organisation and the global advertising industry. “Today’s release of standard calculations for the carbon footprint of major media channels is a significant milestone for Ad Net Zero and the global ad industry. They are the starting point for creating a common currency for global voluntary adoption: a base for calculating reduction and accelerating progress,” Munden said.


Nigel Gwilliam, Director of Media Affairs at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), emphasised the foundational role of these agreed standards. “Having agreed standards for calculating media supply chain emissions is the cornerstone of decarbonising commercial media,” Gwilliam noted.


Munden also highlighted the need for the industry to critically examine the climate impact of the purchasing and lifestyle decisions influenced by its messaging, alongside addressing its own emissions. “Concerted efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of media should go hand in hand with efforts to support more sustainable choices, changing the way we work and the work we create. The ad industry has the business opportunity of a generation to be part of the solution,” he stated.


Purpose Disruptors, an organisation dedicated to transforming the advertising industry’s impact on climate, estimates that 'advertised emissions'—emissions from products and services driven by advertising—increased by more than 10% between 2019 and 2022. This underscores the urgency and importance of initiatives like the Global Media Sustainability Framework.


At Climate Action for Associations (CAFA), we empower associations to take the lead by providing guidance and vital support, including assistance with emissions reporting. Through promoting community learning, we aid them in fulfilling their sustainability commitments effectively.

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