In what’s it’s calling a first for the industry, WPP today said it is committing to reach net zero carbon emissions in its operations by 2025 and across its entire supply chain by 2030. The commitment includes reaching net zero in the emissions generated by the placement of advertising in the media for its clients.
In part, the mission will be accomplished by using electricity that will be 100% renewably sourced by 2025.
Within WPP’s supply chain, which it said accounts for the “overwhelming majority” of its emissions, the two largest sources are the production of advertising content and the placement of that content in media channels including TV, print, radio and online.
WPP CEO Mark Read said that as the largest buyer of advertising space ($60 billion annually) and the world’s largest producer of advertising content “we have the opportunity to make a real difference.”
By including emissions from the placement of advertising in the net zero commitment -- a first for the industry, Read said, “we aim to raise the bar for the whole sector.”
He said that two-thirds of the firm’s top clients have committed to setting science-based reduction targets and that “we can play an important role in helping them to meet those targets in their operations and across their supply chains.”
The company said it would work with media partners via GroupM to develop industry-wide standards for measuring and eliminating the carbon emitted from the placement of advertising in the media.
GroupM is consolidating its existing carbon calculators to allow a single view of emissions across channels in key markets and will make them available to clients. Carbon data will increasingly be integrated into media partner procurement requests, and the idea is for all media plans provided to clients to be net zero by the end of the decade.
The pandemic has accelerated innovation in virtual production technology which reduces the need for carbon-intensive location shoots. Those learnings will help the firm meet its goals on the content side of the business. Production unit Hogarth is taking the lead on that front.
WPP said it will submit its emissions reduction targets to the UN-backed Science Based Targets initiative for independent validation.
The new commitments follow earlier initiatives. 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.