The 2022 Advertised Emissions
report by Purpose Disruptors and Magic Numbers was launched at an event at COP27 this week, with sobering data based on additional greenhouse gas emissions created by the uplift in sales generated by advertising in the UK - the figure has increased 11% from 2019 to 2022, meaning the industry is adding +32% to each individual's (UK) annual carbon footprint.
This data highlights that the industry as a whole is on the wrong side of the transition required of us. To inspire brands and business leaders to accelerate the transition needed, we reached out to youth activists at COP27 to get their perspective on what next for brands and businesses. This week’s 52INSIGHTS focuses on elevating the youth voices at COP27. Let their voices inspire you to make your next move a move in the right direction.
An Urgent Need for Proactive Action
The conversation on brands at COP27 was a big one this year due to the controversy surrounding Coca Cola’s sponsorship
. Many argued that brand involvement compromised the (already shaky) legitimacy of the gathering. Young people called for bold leadership in transforming the industry to shift from promoting high carbon lifestyles to more sustainable ways of living.
“If there was one thing, I would ask brands to give energy to in the context of COP27, it would be the important element of climate inequality and the goal of business sustainability within SDGS Global Goals and the COP27 Youth Declaration Global Statement. Business Leaders are required to do more in having a bold profile in regard to social impact especially in the area of climate inequality…active involvement speaks louder than speeches, statements and report goals. We say no to greenwashing, reducing inequality, including washing and yes to active action taking." - Aquayemi Akinsanya, 24, United Kingdom
“My ask to businesses is to take responsibility for your actions. Oftentimes, we as consumers are the ones asked to make changes to our daily practices, all while big businesses are among the top polluters. Wouldn't you like to set a good example for us little guys? Being able to incorporate sustainable practices into our everyday lives is a privilege... a privilege that big businesses have. If you are looking to give energy to something after COP27, give energy toward adopting equitable solutions to mitigating climate change and amplifying environmental justice efforts. I would also encourage brands to build long term, meaningful relationships with environmental justice advocacy organizations like Girl Plus Environment in order to craft climate solutions that are rooted in community and racial justice.” - Diamond Spratling, 26, Founder of Girl Plus Environment, USA
“Do not greenwash as there is no time to fake anymore. If you don’t improve your company’s impacts in a concrete and sustainable way, you will pay it more expensively in the long run.” - Max Fontaine, 26, Madagascar
“Within the climate negligence and greenwashing spectrum, as young people we are trying hard to seek support in bold collective actions to drive this common engagement. We do care about our consumption and our work environment and aim at having an ownership of climate matters by all the stakeholders. Each brand and business should question what it is doing for climate, and whether it is enough.” - Amal, Tunisia
Collaboration, Urgency & Accountability
Climate is currently an industry blind spot, with more focus on operational footprints rather than our full ‘brainprint’, which is an estimate of the difference between the global carbon footprint associated with a good i.e., Advertised Emissions. The Advertised Emissions report
estimates that advertised emissions are roughly x200 times the total emissions of the industry’s operations - time for high tempo change with more accountability and action. It’s important for brands to be reactive to the demands of young consumers or face a loss of market share.
“What I want business leaders to do is wake up to the opportunities they have in front of them. Most businesses are currently working to reduce their negative impacts rather than looking at it the other way around and increasing their positive impact. We must stop looking at business and positive environmental and social benefits as mutually exclusive. The core goal of businesses should be to create positive impact for the environment and for our societies, so if business leaders find themselves trying to constantly reduce their negative impacts, they must rethink their entire model and think: "how can I make my business centered around creating positive impact rather than negative impact?" - Finnur, 20, Iceland
“I think the biggest thing that businesses should do after COP27 is consider how they can uplift youth engaging in these spaces. Attendees at these large multilateral conferences are often the same businesses that have contributed the most to the problem [over 600 oil and gas industry lobbyists registered to attend COP27], so if they have these spots, they can be allocated toward better representatives. So instead of youth advisory boards [at COP27] that occasionally can meet some mid-level executives, I think better youth representation can make a tangible difference.” - Angela Zhong, 20, USA
“To remember that Planet Earth is one big, connected living system that we as humans are embedded within. Nature is often overlooked and/or mistreated and this cannot continue. For any climate ‘solution’ to be truly effective it cannot infringe on the rights of nature to exist and thrive. I want to see businesses and brands throwing their weight, including financial power, into meaningful, just, and sustainable solutions that work with nature to combat both the biodiversity and climate crises. They might not offer the quickest returns on investment, but these solutions have the largest potential to stabilise our planet, for the benefit of all Earth’s inhabitants.” - Joe, 23, Wales
A Handbrake Turn Is Still Needed - It’s so important to reinforce the important influence and responsibility associated with the outputs of our industry. COP27 has highlighted that we are all still headed in the wrong direction. As many of the young people we spoke to have highlighted, we are past the point of incremental change. What are the conditions you need to create to accelerate and/or deepen the change happening in your business to align with keeping the vision of a 1.5 degree world a reality?
Keep Listening To Youth
- Youth are continuing to use their voices to ask businesses to stretch ambition through the lens of Sustainable development and a just transition. By listening to their voices you can become a future-fit leader. Listen to youth activist Clover Hill
’s words as inspiration for your next Climate positive action.
Tune In To Industry-Specific Analysis
- There are brilliant resources available to tune into to get to grips with some of the COP27 thought leadership. For example, check out Outrage and Optimism’s live podcast on The Future of Food