Australia’s advertising industry accused of hindering action on climate change


Ms Noble said alongside the Feeding the fantasies research, Comms Declare also surveyed agency workers under the age of 30, finding that they think climate change is a critical issue and are willing to shift jobs.

“Most of them want their agency to care more, they want action and the majority don’t work with fossil fuel clients, and many have felt compelled to work with clients they don’t care about. uncomfortable,” she said.

Comms Declare Founder and President Belinda Noble says advertising gives the coal and gas industries a social license to go about their business without change or challenge.

The research found that while nearly half of employees say they work for fossil fuel companies, only 33% of agencies admitted to having such clients.

Ms Noble said the marketing and advertising industry has helped give the coal and gas industries social license, or social and community acceptance, to continue operating.

“Without the marketing industry to help them, I think coal and gas would be attacked by communities and advocates on a much larger scale,” she said.

“The advertising and marketing world needs to look at their role as a kind of soft protection racket for these polluting industries and consider whether this is appropriate.”

Ms. Noble also believes that advertising agencies need to consider their clients’ scope 3 emissions, meaning emissions that result from activities from assets not owned or controlled by the organization, they are often referred to as value chain emissions.

“Our study found that none of the agencies that had high-polluting clients were aware of their clients’ emissions,” she said.

“[Advertising agency] CHE Proximity has three fossil fuel customers that we know of and these customers are responsible for 9% of Australia’s annual emissions.

“If you take into account the scope of carbon calculations, one, two and three, that means that CHE Proximity’s scope three emissions are 9% of Australia’s annual emissions, which is n It’s not totally shocking, I’m sure, for them to consider that.”

Advertising agency M&C Saatchi and GraCosway, a public affairs and strategic communications consultant, were also identified by Comms Declare as having high-emitting clients.

Ms Noble said that ‘to really take action on the climate’ companies need to include scope three shows, which involves looking at customers and asking them tough questions and ‘making sure their operations are compliant with the Paris Agreement and ensure they are on the path to net zero by 2050 or earlier”.

Ms Noble also said that while agencies often suggested they put their clients’ side forward through marketing and helped them communicate what they were doing and not doing to help change climate, they only delayed the action that was needed.

“They’re betting on some sort of technological economic response to the climate crisis, when in fact it’s disruptive change that’s needed,” she said.

“Promoting a customer as the solution to the problem they are actually helping to create delays the disruptive change we need that massively reduces fossil fuels.”

Ms Noble noted that the Comms Declare pledge – which asks agencies to pledge not to support activities, organizations or individuals that promote fossil fuel growth, high greenhouse gas pollution like “business as usual” and deception, distraction or spin around science or climate actions – is worded carefully.

“We’re not telling people that you can’t promote fossil fuels at all, because fossil fuels are still an integral part of our economy,” she said.

“It’s the growth of fossil fuels…what matters to us, if you’re promoting a company that’s increasing its fossil fuel extraction, or isn’t about to be in line with the Paris targets, then you help a polluter, especially if you present it as a clean energy company.”


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