'Thanks XR': PR agencies agree to disclose 'climate conflicts'

More than 80 individual 'creatives' and 40 PR agencies have responded to a call from Extinction Rebellion by promising to disclose "climate conflicts" and income generated from working with high-carbon organisations, with some outright refusing to work with the fossil fuel industry.

More than 80  individuals including Solitaire Townsend and Ed Gillespie, will refuse to work on fossil fuel briefs, no matter the agency they are with

More than 80  individuals including Solitaire Townsend and Ed Gillespie, will refuse to work on fossil fuel briefs, no matter the agency they are with

Last month, the climate activism group, Extinction Rebellion, called on advertising agencies “declare a climate and ecological emergency” and put processes in place to mitigate impacts.

In response, 40 PR agencies, including Futerra, Forster Communications, Greenhouse PR, Archipelago, Barley Communications and L & Co have signed a letter announcing a refusal to work on briefs for fossil fuel companies.

In addition, the agencies will also commit to disclose “climate conflicts”, whilst respecting client confidentiality, to reveal the percentage of turnover coming from fossil fuel companies and high-carbon clients.

The individuals that have signed, including Solitaire Townsend and Ed Gillespie, will refuse to work on fossil fuel briefs, no matter the agency they are with.

"We know many of our colleagues and friends across the creative industry are anxious/terrified about the climate emergency,” the letter reads. “We also know that disclosing climate conflicts will be too early, and too controversial, for many agencies today.

"But, we firmly believe that we cannot serve climate solutions, whilst still serving the industry’s most answerable for causing the climate emergency. Disclosure is only the first step on a journey that must lead to divestment - divesting agency client rosters of these clients. Agencies need to align our businesses with climate science, just like everyone else.”

Extinction Rebellion

As thousands of climate protestors swarmed key London landmarks as part of the Extinction Rebellion protests earlier this year, businesses were warned that action or inaction to combat climate change will define their role in future societies.

Amongst the group’s mission statement is a call for the UK Government to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero by 2025, as well as establishing a citizens’ assembly – which is starting to take shape - to create plans that tackle both climate change and biodiversity loss.

As evidenced by both Extinction Rebellion and the continuous climate youth strikes taking place across the world, climate change is front and central to societal demand. These protestors and the general public also form the majority of corporate consumer bases and evidence suggests that companies would do well to appease concerns.

Matt Mace



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