Vogue publisher vows to phase-out plastics and align with Paris Agreement

The media giant's content reaches more than 390 million people each month. Image: Conde Nast

The media giant has today (21 November) signed the UNFCC’s Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, which commits signatories to set science-based emissions reduction targets in line with a 1.5C trajectory – which, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will require most organisations to reach net-zero carbon status by 2050.

As a first step to meeting this requirement, Condé Nast will publish its first environmental assessment report in early 2020, outlining the composition of its carbon footprint. Based on this assessment, the company will develop a global sustainability roadmap including time-bound, numerical targets for emissions reductions.

Condé Nast has also joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Commitment, thereby committing to remove all non-recyclable products from its business globally by 2025. More than half of its operations have already begun phasing out non-recyclable plastic wrapping on issues.

Condé Nast claims it is the first media business to have signed up to these two initiatives. The Industry Charter has been signed by 30+ big-name brands across fashion design, manufacturing and retail, while the New Plastics Economy Commitment has garnered the support of 350+ businesses across the plastics value chain, alongside national governments and investors.

Recognising that a large proportion of its social and environmental impact lies in its messaging as well as its direct operations, Condé Nast has additionally vowed to change its “fashion influence”, working with industry partners to promote clothing resale and reuse as well as innovative materials and technologies which minimise the environmental impacts of fashion.

“We have a responsibility to use the power of [our] brands to help raise awareness, define terms of change and point to solutions to ensure our audiences and our industry are informed and engaged in taking climate action,” Condé Nast’s chief executive Roger Lynch said.

“We also have a responsibility to operate our business in the most sustainable way possible. We are committed to measuring and reporting on our progress as we strive to be better global citizens.”

Changing the narrative

While it is the first publishing house to sign both the Industry Charter and New Plastics Economy Commitment, Condé Nast is not the only media firm working to reduce its operational carbon and plastics footprint, or to change its storytelling methods in light of the climate emergency.

The Guardian refreshed its style guide in May, urging reporters to ditch the term “climate change” in favour of “global heating” or “climate crisis”. Since then, it has also refreshed its image guide for environmental stories in a bid to “humanise” climate impacts and committed to becoming a net-zero business by 2030.

Elsewhere, Time Magazine dedicated its entire 23 September issue to ‘The Fight for the Earth’ and The Daily Mirror dedicated its 15 November issue to the ‘climate crisis’. The tabloid’s front page featured a full-page image of a new-born boy and teased coverage of The Lancet’s new report on climate-related impacts on children’s health, with the headline “give me a world I can grow up in”, while its website was also transformed for a week.

On a broader scale, PR firms and 60+ news outlets have signed joint commitments covering the ways in which they cover climate-related stories and how they work with clients.

Sarah George  

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