Welcome to the second edition of the FIPP Global Media Sustainability Tracker! From reducing carbon emissions and improving employee well-being, to protecting press freedom and accurately reporting on climate change, today’s media has a key role to play in the prosperity of tomorrow’s people, places, and planet(s).
FIPP invites media owners around the world to share their latest updates with us. As a network, we are greater than the sum of our individual parts and can be an impactful force in helping to influence change on a global level. Got a story to share? Simply get in contact with us today.
November saw world leaders discuss the future of the planet at COP27, an event that once again inspired publishers and broadcasters to look at their own sustainability strategies.
Nov 17th – What kind of impact might Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter have on the social media platform when it comes to environmental issues? Among the media outlets that have been discussing the implications of the new regime is Euronews.
It points out that if you searched ‘climate’ on Twitter during COP27, the top result that greeted you was #climatescam, ahead of #climatecrisis and #climateaction.
It notes though that what’s being promoted to users during pivotal climate talks isn’t necessarily due to Elon Musk’s takeover of the social media company three weeks ago.
There has, in fact, been no explicit policy change in Twitter’s approach to tackling the climate denialism and delays that is rife on its platform. But the Climate Action Against Disinformation (CAAD) coalition is still deeply concerned about what has been spreading online during the UN summit.
Nov 8th – As world leaders gathered in Sharm El Sheikh for COP27, WNIP rounded up a list of companies that publishers should have on their radar as part of their sustainability initiatives. These included SeenThis, which is focused on creating a high-speed and energy-efficient Internet, The GoodNet a digital ad network that reaches a scaled audience of ethical consumers, and Viously, a next-gen publisher video solution that is focussing on reducing video’s environmental footprint.
Nov 4th – Politico has a really interesting story about how the downturn in the advertising fortunes of big tech companies might impact the environment. Google parent Alphabet Inc., Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc., Shopify Inc., and Stripe Inc. have collectively dropped more than $1.5 trillion in market value this year.
Now observers are worried it will affect their support of Frontier, the $925 million carbon-removal initiative they launched in April. Investors are getting impatient with the tech giants’ expensive forays, like Meta’s investments in the “metaverse.”
So far, Frontier seems to be chugging along with its plans to fund startups. And even if its backers want to get out, they’ll face pushback from employees, one climate advocate warned.
“My guess: they’ll keep this commitment, but just spend less on it over the next 2-3 years,” Bill Weihl, a former sustainability executive at Facebook and Google who now leads the nonprofit group Climate Voice, said. “Because they have another bottom line to think about — satisfying the expectations of their employees that they will be climate champions.”
Nov 16th – Inspired by the Ad Net Zero Summit, which was held in London in November, The Drum ran a story explaining how advertising can be part of the solution to addressing climate change. It quoted Laura Wade, VP head of sustainability at Essence who argued that things will heat up for those not shown to be doing their part.
Irreparable damage is now coming to Earth, according to the IPCC’s best estimates. In the context of that, Wade pointed out that in the backdrop of an energy crisis, advertising has to prove its effectiveness more than ever. “Why do we deserve to burn through energy with our marketing and advertising?” Wade called out the need for cooperation in the industry to solve a common problem. “We need to come together as a community for our industry to survive and be relevant and welcomed in a net-zero society.”
Nov 15th – A year after it initiated the Climate Content Pledge BAFTA albert, the TV and film industry organisation for environmental sustainability has published an update from the largest media brands in the UK and Ireland on its progress.
BAFTA argues that as part of the Pledge, programmes including ‘climate content’ are now reaching audiences – and winning awards – across a wide range of genres including comedy, factual, drama, entertainment, and events.
Initiatives included a partnership between eBay and ITV’s Love Island, to promote pre-loved fashion, Emmerdale featuring sustainable food systems, and the BBC’s Frozen Planet II joining forces with EastEnders for a one-off version of the soap’s end credits, showing a flooded version of the iconic map of London’s East End.
Ad Net Zero is a UK ad industry coalition founded by the Advertising Association (AA), the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (SBA) and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), to coordinate efforts to limit the emissions created by the industry.
In his opening statements, Ad Net Zero chair and former Unilever executive vice-president Seb Munden celebrated the progress that has been made within the last year, but warned it is the bare minimum required to curb emissions and halt the worst effects of global heating on the climate, demanding “we have to go further, faster.”
Nov 11th – Digiday was inspired by Cop27 to take a look at the carbon footprint of the advertising industry. “All industries must play their part and reduce their carbon emissions for a better, shared future,” their correspondent argued.
Chris Kane, the founder of media consultancy service Jounce Media, laid out some potential approaches that could include an elevated clearing price during ad auctions to fund the carbon offsets.
“The alternative is that the publisher takes a revenue hit, and their revenue gets depressed to cover the cost,” he said, pointing out how alternative approaches could include intermediaries shouldering any such cost.
Effectively, the latter approach could potentially result in a new green levy to the already bothersome ad tech tax – one that already consumes approximately 50% of every dollar that marketers write, but one that is ethically difficult to begrudge for responsible practitioners. Nov 1st: The Hearst Corp issued its first annual report on the company’s sustainability efforts in November, finding that measurable greenhouse gas emissions have decreased across operations.
The 2022 Hearst Sustainability Overview, whose details were recorded in one of its media titles, the Houston Chronicle, tracked greenhouse gas emissions across two categories which measure direct emissions from natural gas used in Hearst offices and facilities, and indirect emissions, related to electricity, steam, and in-house printing. Those emissions fell over 11 percent to 58,200 metric tons in 2021 from 65,700 in 2019.
Oct 26th – One part of the media that is often ignored when it comes to focusing on sustainability issues is gaming. The Washington Post has a story about how games can become greener but the trade-off might be losing some of the higher fidelity graphics powered by more advanced software and hardware, the production of which involves many carbon-intensive industrial processes.
Oct 20th – WNIP reports that Australia’s largest men’s lifestyle brand, Man of Many, has become the first publisher in the region to be officially audited as ‘carbon neutral’ under the Federal Government’s Climate Active standard. According to Climate Active, certification is awarded to businesses that “have credibly reached net zero emissions” by independently calculating their greenhouse gas emissions, reduced these emissions “as much as possible” and have “offset any remaining emissions by purchasing carbon offset units”.
As part of the strategy, Man of Many selected a local indigenous carbon project to offset its emissions. The Merepah Fire Project is run through the Aboriginal Carbon Foundation which catalyses community prosperity through carbon farming.
Oct 11th – If you want to know what a sustainability manager in a publishing/media company does then Axel Springer has all the details. In a post on its blog, it runs through some of the key issues with input from its sustainability team.
Oct 25th – Media in Canada reports that BMW Canada has partnered with CBC to launch a branded content series. Forces of Nature by BMW is hosted by Dragons’ Den star Michele Romanow. The six-part series of eight-minute episodes, airing on CBC Gem and CBC’s YouTube channel, is an original format conceived and developed by Media Experts in collaboration with Performance Art and executed in partnership with Richmond Day and CBC.
“Sustainability is a fundamental operating principle at the BMW Group and at the core of our business model,” adds Jonathan Thomson, director of BMW brand management. “This new series shares how like-minded entrepreneurs are impacting the world with their creativity, tenacity, and innovation, stories that are both compelling and inspiring.”
Each episode is centred around the main theme of sustainability and showcases a trailblazer who has created a unique innovation or a new way of doing business that is environmentally friendly.
Nov 18th – COP27, which many pundits have referred to as an African environmental conference on account of both its venue (Egypt) as well as its content, saw a significant presence from African journalists.
Internews’ Earth Journalism Network – in partnership with the Stanley Center for Peace and Security – has supported six African journalists (among 14 other journalists from low- and middle-income countries) to cover the COP as part of their Climate Change Media Partnership (CCMP) programme .
“It’s critical for African journalists to cover global climate summits such as this one. They are helping to shape public opinion, as audiences back home benefit from daily updates on the negotiations, and at the end of the day, that informed debate leads to better climate policies,” said veteran journalist and media trainer David Akana, who is supporting the journalists to cover proceedings on the ground in Egypt.
Nov 17th – Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is collaborating with Microsoft to address climate-related issues and improve sustainability outcomes for digital technologies. This partnership will look to accelerate the global and local development of software applications and solutions to help industries do more with less.
IMDA and Microsoft will share learnings, certification pathways, best practices, and standards for effective measurement and reporting of carbon emissions arising from software applications. This partnership will look to advance the implementation of principles and tools for the development of green technologies.
IMDA and Microsoft will be developing a joint framework that outlines guidance for the development of sustainable software. The framework will be applied through the Singapore GreenTech Challenge, where local developers will be invited to build sustainable and carbon-aware applications that will contribute to the energy reset pillar of the Singapore Green Plan 2030. The framework will also be shared globally when ready.