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WPP makes industry-leading net zero commitment with Carbon Intelligence

By Hannah Morris
22nd April 2021

In a first for the industry, WPP’s commitment includes reaching net zero in the emissions generated by the placement of advertising in the media for its clients

 

WPP has committed to:

  • Net zero carbon emissions across Scope 1 and 2 by 2025
  • Net zero carbon emissions across Scope 3 by 2030
  • WPP will use electricity that is 100% sourced from renewable sources by 2025

 

On Earth Day, WPP announces a new commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions in its operations by 2025 and across its entire supply chain by 2030.

To deliver net zero emissions from WPP’s operations, electricity will be 100% renewably sourced by 2025.

Within WPP’s supply chain, which accounts for the overwhelming majority of the company’s emissions, the two largest sources are the production of advertising content and, most significantly, the placement of that content in media channels from television and press to radio and online.

 

WPP is the first in its industry to include media in its net zero commitment.

Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said: “WPP is the world’s largest buyer of advertising space, managing more than $60 billion in media spend on behalf of our clients, and the world’s largest producer of advertising content. So we have the opportunity to make a real difference.

“By including emissions from the placement of advertising in our net zero commitment – a first for our industry – we aim to raise the bar for the whole sector.

“Two-thirds of our top clients have committed to set their own science-based reduction targets and we can play an important role in helping them to meet those targets in their operations and across their supply chains.

“We look forward to working with all our partners – many of whom have already made great strides in this area – to develop standards that will benefit the industry, our clients and our wider communities.”

 

Jonathan Sykes, Executive Chairman of Carbon Intelligence, a sustainability data and consulting firm, who supported WPP’s net zero roadmap and science-based target, said: “Having the world’s largest buyer of media advertising making this net zero commitment is significant. It will help galvanise the wider industry and lead to even more action from media platforms to reach net zero.  

“WPP’s target is backed by the best science and we are proud to be their chosen partner to help set this landmark target.  The world is currently in an online explosion, which has been accelerated by the pandemic, and this is making tackling emissions this is producing increasingly important. WPP’s announcement is hugely significant as it pushes us forward to tackling online emissions.” 

 

Impact across the advertising sector

The Paris Agreement calls for net zero by 2050 to limit global warming to 1.5°C, but in recognition of the scale of the challenge, WPP’s commitment will see its emissions fall faster. With an independently assessed annual carbon footprint of 5.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), WPP’s net zero commitment will have a significant impact in reducing the emissions associated with the advertising sector.

Businesses increasingly recognise the need to set science-based targets for reaching net zero emissions. Given that WPP and its supply chain represent a significant portion of its clients’ own carbon footprints, its commitment to reach net zero by 2030 will help ensure clients can meet their own targets. In line with best practice, WPP will submit its emissions reduction targets to the UN-backed Science Based Targets initiative for independent validation.

The net zero commitment follows other industry-leading sustainability initiatives from WPP. In 2020 WPP purchased 65% of its electricity from renewable sources, including 100% of electricity bought in the United States and, for the first time, in the UK, Canada and most European markets. In 2019, WPP was the first among its peers to commit to phasing out single-use plastics within its campuses.

 

Read more in the press:

 

Further resources

Download | Net Zero: The Guide for Professional Services

Download | Guide to Science-Based Targets 

Download | Net Zero: The Guide for Business 

 

Contact a member of the team at Carbon Intelligence if you would like to check if your net zero target strategy will stand up to scrutiny and how it compares to others in your sector. Email info@carbon.ci