3 ways brands are using PR & Comms to deliver on sustainability targets ahead of COP26

Sinead O'Connor

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At the start of 2021, we saw a seismic shift towards sustainability which has gained momentum as we’ve emerged from the pandemic and edge closer to COP26.

Public awareness of climate change has never been greater and the role of communications has been a key driver in achieving this.

Here are three things happening right now in sustainability that will continue to drive the value of purpose-driven communication. 

1. Say goodbye to greenwashing

As consumer demand for environmentally friendly products and services continue to rise, there is increasing pressure on brands to communicate their sustainability credentials. In fact, The Shelton Group 90 percent of millennials say they will buy from brands whose social and environmental practices they truly trust and 95% will recommend your brand to their friends.

Yet recent international analysis of websites found that 40% of green claims made online could be misleading. As a result, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently announced plans to investigate environmental and sustainability claims made by brands in an attempt to combat greenwashing.

The new Green Claims Code sets 6 points for all businesses who purport to have environmental credentials, to check they are genuinely green. These include: claims must be truthful and accurate; clear and unambiguous; substantiated; and consider the full life cycle of the product or service. They must also not omit or obscure important relevant information, and comparisons must be fair and meaningful.

For communications professionals, the CMA’s announcement is very much welcomed as it supports the backbone of what purpose-driven communications is about. Brands need to be transparent to ensure what they are saying is authentic and meaningful to their audience.

2. The drive to net zero

The UK has committed to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Subsequently, over the last few years we have seen companies increase their efforts towards publicly setting goals to reduce their emissions. Most recently, The Independent has promised ‘more climate-focused news’ as it targets net zero by 2030.

We are also seeing businesses work together to hold the government accountable to its commitments, with the likes of Tesco and BT publicly calling on the government to impose mandatory net zero reporting on firms.

This in particular has escalated the role businesses need to have in driving change and achieving true progress, and communications will be the tool that ensures they will be held accountable.

3. COP26

COP26 kicks off from 1 November and will bring together world leaders to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

With the UK under increasing pressure in the lead up to COP26, the media has been saturated with news stories focused on holding the Government accountable to meeting its climate goals.

So what does this mean for PR and comms? According to Sir David Attenborough, “Saving our planet is now a communications challenge“, as he signed up to Instagram last year to spread his environmental messages. This is an opportunity for businesses to communicate the progress they are making against the climate crisis in an authentic way. 

Achieving cut-through for clients will be challenging through the noise, but we will be providing a run down and analysis of the key stories from COP26 and how this will impact brands and importantly, their communication strategies. Stay tuned…