Powering advertising’s drive to net zero operations

2021, and COP26 in particular, showed the climate emergency is real and needs action now. The public and corporate desire for rapid change will grow this decade and the advertising industry sits right at the centre of this critical shift in the way we live our lives.

Thanks to the hard work of the Advertising Association, the IPA and ISBA, we have a world-leading response in Ad Net Zero to achieve net-zero emissions from the development, production, and media placement of advertising by the end of 2030.

We count nearly 100 supporters from across the advertising landscape, including advertisers, agencies, tech companies, and media owners with brilliant backing from Thinkbox and broadcasters, Channel 4, CNN, ITV, Sky and STV.

This support in our first year helped us publish the Ad Net Zero Guide, launch the AdGreen carbon calculator, aid the development of the IPA Media carbon calculator and unveil the first training qualification for best practice in sustainable ad operations, the Ad Net Zero Essentials Certificate. We also marked our first anniversary with the Ad Net Zero Global Summit at STV, opposite COP26.

But why are net zero ad operations so important to us at Unilever? Our goal is to reach net zero emissions from our value chain by 2039. This means we must radically reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) impact of our products at every opportunity – from raw materials and manufacturing, to how we advertise and get our products to consumers. It’s an ambitious target and can only be achieved through collaboration between companies, suppliers, investors and policymakers. Ad Net Zero is a prime example of what can be achieved when the value chain comes together.

Ad Net Zero is a ten-year plan – we must keep driving forward. This year, we will introduce certification for Ad Net Zero supporters: the next step in ensuring companies reduce carbon emissions from every part of advertising’s operations.

The TV industry is well set to support us here. We have learned from BAFTA’s brilliant work on sustainability in film and TV, adapting albert to provide the backbone of AdGreen’s carbon calculator for ad production. At the time of writing, it has the support of over 300 agencies and production companies, with an average of 4-5 campaigns being added per weekday, measuring carbon footprints, and taking active steps to reduce them.

We need that same drive for change to tackle carbon from media distribution; TV companies will play a critical role in providing data to support the tracking in the likes of the IPA’s media carbon calculator so we, as advertisers, can account for the carbon involved in our campaigns.

Yet the role of TV companies goes further still. We must use advertising to positively influence consumer behaviour and I know TV is a fantastic medium to do this. There are inspiring ads being made every day showcasing the changes – from small to large – and you can actively help consumers shift to more sustainable products and lifestyles.

I ask every one of you to help us deliver our ambition and, if you want to get directly involved, please contact the Ad Net Zero team at the Advertising Association.

  • Sebastian-Munden
    Sebastian Munden
    EVP & General Manager, Unilever UK & Ireland, and Ad Net Zero Chair
  • Posted under
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