We have talked a lot about climate change, and we have talked a lot about doing something about climate change. Now we really need to get on with doing something.
It will be one of the most prominent issues on the agenda at Davos next week, when businesses, no doubt supported by their PR agencies, will be declaring their plans for tackling the problem, perhaps outlining how they aim to become net zero.
Some of the more progressive ones may even push further and go public on their desire to become carbon-positive, committing to reversing and mitigating more negative environmental impacts than they generate.
But how many PR agencies will be among those businesses committing to a net-zero future or becoming carbon-positive?
Last year, as the Extinction Rebellion movement woke many of us from our complacency about the climate crisis, some agencies publicly declared a climate emergency, others publicly disclosed their climate conflicts, and a few signalled their intention to become net zero by a certain date.
However, in an industry that now places so much emphasis on values and purpose, the number and size of agencies publicly taking action remains disappointingly modest.
When you’re in the business of purpose, you cannot have a neutral stance on the climate crisis.
If we work for clients who are engaging in destructive activity and not actively seeking to turn that around, we are on the wrong side of the battle.
The PR industry has immense influence, on both our clients and the audiences we seek to engage on their behalf.
We need to use much more of that influence to accelerate efforts to tackle climate change before it is too late. And it will soon be too late.
We all need to get a plan in place to make sure we aren’t actively contributing to the climate crisis through our own operations – and then do everything we can to help our clients do the same.
If not, all that talk about 'values' and 'purpose' will sound increasingly hollow.
Amanda Powell-Smith is CEO of Forster Communications
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