AdvertisementAdvertising Adds 28% to Each Person’s Carbon Footprint in the UK –...

Advertising Adds 28% to Each Person’s Carbon Footprint in the UK – Report


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A new report on advertising’s role in driving climate change finds the industry is adding an additional 28% to everyone’s carbon footprint in the UK.

New research has found that the UK advertising industry can add up to 28% to each person’s annual carbon footprint. The report, published by Purpose Disruptors, an organization of industry insiders advocating sustainable change, aims to highlight the role of advertising in influencing spending decisions and its impact on the environment.

Describing the advertising sector as “the biggest driver of societal change,” the report said the $600 billion global industry must “play a vital role” in the shift toward a low-carbon economy.

is reading: Climate-damaging outdoor ads may soon be banned in Helsinki

Emissions Announcement

picture: Visualland / Texas Corral / DesignCrowDr

The report, titled Advertised Emissions, framed the term as greenhouse gas emissions “as a result of higher sales from advertising.” In other words, it takes into account the full range of additional economic activity, spending and emissions associated with the demand that fuels advertising.

Combining data with the econometrics agency Magic Numbers, the analysis shows that these reported emissions represented more than 186 million tons of CO2 equivalent in the UK alone in 2019. This number is roughly equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from 47 coal-fired power plants. Operating full year, it is approximately 186 larger than the UK advertising industry’s operating emissions.

“Advertising adds an additional 28% to the annual carbon footprint of every person in the UK,” the researchers wrote.

Image: Purpose Hangers

Related: The advertising industry fuels high-carbon consumption, from meat to cars

Reduce advertising spend for high-carbon brands

To highlight the “vital role” that the advertising industry plays in “determining whether the world will successfully transition towards a low-carbon and sustainable society,” the report’s authors provided a framework for the sector moving forward.

While advertising spending on high-carbon brands and industries should be reduced, spending on green brands that “go their business to serve the 1.5℃ world” should be increased.

Photo: Hyora

Related: Spanish meat industry’s bid to sue Heura vegan ads rejected by court

Other recommendations made by the report include widespread industry recognition of reported emissions, and incorporation of this into corporate reporting. He also called for the establishment of an independent scientific expert body to standardize the monitoring and regulation of reported emissions.

“A decrease in environmentally harmful advertising does not necessarily lead to a decrease in income,” the report says. “By purposefully reducing consumption-related emissions, the advertising industry has the opportunity to reinvent itself and increase its relevance and profitability.”


Lead image courtesy of Unsplash.

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