Of the many talking points from the COP26 event, from David Attenborough’s stirring speech to Kenyan climate activist Elizabeth Wathuti’s impassioned call-to-arms, there is only one real takeout: the need to take serious action on climate change is way past due.
As consumers it’s vital we play our part and act on how our lifestyles contribute to this movement, but the impetus needs to come from the top down: government and businesses must overhaul policy and practice with urgency. While there have been some encouraging commitments at COP26, including ending deforestation and cutting methane emissions by 2030, many of the promises laid out in the 2015 Paris agreement have not been delivered on so will this turn out to be further lip-service?
And what about our industry, how can we take action and hold the promisemakers accountable too? As comms, marketing and social impact experts we know that information delivered in the right way can be inspiring and world-changing, and the reverse is also true: an ever-sophisticated approach to and abundance of misinformation and disinformation can be highly damaging not just for individuals but society as a whole. The storming of Capitol Hill at the beginning of this year is just one example of how online disinformation on the legitimacy of elections had serious real world implications, and ahead of COP26 The Global Disinformation index reported and uptick in misinformation every time a climate announcement was made.
As an agency we’re proud to be part of the Conscious Advertising Network (CAN), a voluntary coalition of over 70 organisations set up to ensure industry ethics catch up with the technology of modern advertising. Their mission, and ours as signatories, is to stop advertising abuse by highlighting the conscious choice advertisers and agencies can make to ensure good practise.
In response to the dangerous spread of disinformation on climate issues at this crucial moment in our collective history, CAN have penned an open letter to COP26 decision makers and technology makers to ask for:
• A universal definition of climate dis/misinformation.
• ‘Action against climate dis/misinformation’ to be included in the COP26 Negotiated Outcome, based on the above definition.
• Technology platforms to implement climate dis/misinformation policies and enforcement that extend to content, algorithms and advertising, similar to the robust COVID-19 policies that have been published over the last 18 months.
You can view the letter here, we invite you to sign with us. The more signatures we get, the harder we’ll be to ignore. The conference is just the beginning, the real work starts now. Too often at events like these promises are made but drop away once the eyes of the world are no longer watching, so it’s critical that platforms and advertisers get this right. Our planet is at stake, and we can help save it.
This is just one way as an industry we can make a difference, if you’re keen on going deeper on social impact specific to your business we’d love to help you get there, drop us a line to chat more about how an activist mindset could transform your brand email@example.com .