Anish: I think by going against clients and brands who have origins in fossil fuels, we are sort of closing our eyes in terms of the opportunities that lie there, we are making them the cause of the problem, rather than making them part of the solution. And there’s a big opportunity in making them part of the solution. You spoke about hamburgers Duncan, livestock – all the meat that we love to eat. All the beef, steaks, etc. are the largest contributor to methane, I don’t have the stats, but it contributes 3x more CO2 than automobiles and vehicles, etc. By that logic, Clean Creatives should ask everyone to go vegan as well, because they are perhaps a bigger contributor. The second aspect is behavior change, instead of working against the brand, we should work with the people – carpooling, flights when you need to, etc. Where we can truly make a difference, and I genuinely care about sustainability and I do a lot of work pro-bono, can we bring in governments? Can we bring in regulators to work with fossil fuels and manufacturing companies to devote more of their time and resources and budget towards sustainable options or having a net zero carbon output? A lot of the companies are already doing that, I work with them, but some companies do it as lip service and make them accountable. This is what Greenpeace is doing every day, and yes make them accountable and make them deliver on their promise. And make it mandatory for these companies to have their carbon emissions on their products and advertising. – this is how much harm we cause the planet. And let the consumers decide if they feel they do enough to offset their carbon footprint. A lot of us feel the pain that the planet is going through, you know bringing kids into a world where we can offer a safe enough future. So, everyone will care in terms of buying into brands that are genuinely doing enough. And the reason that care comes into being, is that we as consumers as users are as much a part of the problem as the creators because we’re the ones who consume, right? We’re not going to stop using our cars or planes or bikes, starting today. And even if we had options like electric vehicles. How do they work? The dark side of how EV batteries are made is another problem, and we must use fossil fuels to recharge our EV batteries. Not sustainable energy. Which is a new debate within itself. We must solve the problem at its root and not just at the surface.
Duncan: I’m a vegan, I don’t eat meat. I haven’t for many years. And I still do this work because I see the fossil fuel economy as being at the center of the climate problem, I think people should eat less meat, but the scientific reality is agriculture in general, not just meat is about 12% of global carbon emissions, so the reality is it’s a relatively small part of the climate puzzle and its one that we have a lot of influence on. And we do have options, renewable energy is some of the cheapest in the world – you can get it from the sun. And the question of the new economy and the impact that’s going to have on the planet is significant and it’s going to involve some difficult choices. Ultimately when we build that clean energy structure it will have 1/100th of the impact that fossil fuels have every single day.
When it comes to the pledge, we’re trying to be as specific as we can about the kinds of companies that we want agencies to avoid working with and those are companies that are spending more than half of their existing budget on fossil fuel expansion while receiving more than half of their profits from burning fossil fuels or you’re a utility or industries or organizations that support them.
Really what we’re asking is for agencies to draw a very firm line about companies putting their money where their mouth is, and that their statements align with their budgets.
Arun: I’m keen to get your perspective here Rachel, given the coalition you represent, how important is this kind of a pledge in terms of the company’s appeal as an employer? Also, as a consumer?
Rachel: Thanks, everyone. I’m going to pick up on some conversations and hopefully offer a different perspective. I do agree with Vu-Quan about not undermining the role of creatives and the creative industry in tackling climate change. As a young person, I see climate change as the most significant creative challenge of our lives, good creative work generates attention, and if there’s anything the climate crisis needs its good attention from the younger generations. And the creative industry recognizes that they have the individual and collective power to change things, we are responsible and accountable.
I want to pick up on what Anish said, because when we released our report that’s what we got a lot of – you know ‘do these kids bike to school,’ ‘how dare you eat meat?’ What’s often missing from climate discourse is the nuances of power. The idea of a carbon footprint was created by the fossil fuel industry as a distraction from the sheer scale of carbon emissions they were putting in our atmosphere, and are we fixated on creating a sense of moral purity or are we going to be courageous and say that we’re going to take every action that we can to move the needle towards acting against it. A different perspective I can offer is to just be a bit more critical about the role of the PR industry as a stakeholder and historically perpetuating climate change. The PR industry has historically downplayed the role of climate change, promoting industry-favorite solutions as a perfect cause of action even to the extent of promoting climate denial as an action. It has been a long-overlooked influence in climate policy and politics. When you think about policies and regulations, they do not exist in a vacuum. They reflect attitudes and beliefs that the PR industry has a huge power to shape.
When I think about PR, I think about the word relations, and I think about the word relationship. And what it really comes down to is trust, A recent study released by Eco-Business in September this year, found that 60% of communications by big oil majors were green claims, and only 12% of their investments were really going to renewables so I think that brings up the question, do they want to be part of the solution? But as a consumer, when I’m reading otherwise, I’m questioning do they really want to be part of the solution, and do we trust the fossil fuel industry will use the power that they have to change the status quo and lead the way.