On Earth Day 2020, AdGreen founder Jo Coombes explores how the lessons learned during this pandemic can serve us when once the lockdown is lifted. You can read the full article here on the LBB website.


Covid-19 is hitting our industry hard. Among the many upheavals and changes brought about by the pandemic, the cancellation of shoots and rising uncertainty over when we may return (if ever) to normality has left us scratching our collective heads to find solutions.


With reports indicating that we could still be a few months away from many locations seeing cameras roll on live action projects, all we can say for certain is that we have an opportunity to take stock and plan for the future. However, whilst we’re doing the important work needed to get our industry back on its feet, it’s imperative that we don’t lose sight of our environmental responsibilities. This period of reflection that’s been forced upon us could, at least, be a good chance to assess where we’re at on our sustainable production journey, and to make further plans for our low carbon future.

Earlier this year we saw the Advertising Association establish two climate action groups, and work on the trade body’s key objectives continues apace despite the lockdown. The working group members are collaborating with consultants to produce a report detailing the industry’s emissions. This will offer a consensus on the most efficient path to a net zero emission industry. The results are already being anticipated, and groundwork is being done to provide practical tools: a production carbon calculator, certification and industry wide training – a potential partnership with the BAFTA albert initiative is also being explored to help accelerate progress.

I have no doubt that the results of the AA’s efforts will give us the opportunity to practice sustainable production 2.0 in the future, but what can we do in the meantime, given the ‘new normal’ we’ve been dealt? Many people have mentioned the cleaner air, all those grounded flights – this is good for the environment, right? Well, it’s useful (and slightly terrifying) to understand that despite the reduction in carbon emissions we’ll see for 2020 because of Covid-19, reductions like these still wouldn’t even come close to achieving the 1.5C global temperature limit we need.

With this in mind, one can get a sense of just how dramatic the changes need to be in order to avert the next major crisis on the horizon. We need to continue to live as we are now, only using even LESS carbon. Does that feel realistic? Probably not for most people. It’s more likely that we’ll adapt with a mixture of reduced activity (people travelling when necessary but not to the extent we’re done so before), and by using less carbon intensive alternatives (like solar planes… I can dream). But what does this look like for advertising?

Article continues online