Jonathan Owen
Jul 20, 2023

Most UK comms clients not walking the walk on climate change - report

Two-thirds of clients are jumping on the bandwagon of talking about climate change without doing anything about it, says a report by the UK's PRCA’s Climate Communication Group.

Most UK comms clients not walking the walk on climate change - report

Almost half (44 per cent) of clients are misinformed when it comes to the issue of climate change, according to a new report by the PRCA Climate Communication Group. The report, which draws on a survey of 230 comms professionals by Opinium last month, also reveals that 44 per cent have noticed clients or organisations attempting to ‘greenwash’.

Almost all (95 per cent) of these comms professionals pushed back against the attempt at greenwashing, 65 per cent of which saw clients or organisations changing their approach to avoid greenwashing as a result.

Some 95 per cent of respondents have advised their clients and colleagues on the climate crisis. Nearly all (97 per cent) described their clients or organisation as having some knowledge of the issue.

Eight out of 10 PR practitioners (82 per cent) think the sector needs to do more to tackle misinformation on climate change. One in five (20 per cent) have experienced climate-change deniers – having clients or bosses not believing in the climate crisis.

The most common way in which clients and organisations are taking action is by having sustainability policies and practices in place, cited by 47 per cent of respondents. Other actions being taken include reducing carbon footprints (44 per cent) and making Net Zero commitments (37 per cent).

Laura Sutherland, development director at Scottish PR agency 3x1 Group and co-chair of the PRCA Climate Communication Group, said: “Worryingly, a large number (66 per cent of respondents) still say that clients often jump on the bandwagon but don’t act on climate change. If the research is representative, it’s no wonder, as a fifth of respondents (20 per cent) have had clients or bosses who don’t believe there even is a climate crisis.”

Henry Oliver, research for communications specialist at Opinium, said: “Many communication professionals see work in this space as an opportunity to push back against greenwashing and use their expertise to help companies develop and communicate a sustainability strategy. However, as practitioners upskill and educate themselves, they may be at odds with clients or their own organisation who don’t yet have the expertise to properly tackle the issue – or may not be willing to.”

He added: “It’s important consultancies do what they advise others to do: reflecting their advice in policies and sustainability efforts, making sure there are clear ethical boundaries so practitioners can feel comfortable that their work – and their employer – are truly supporting sustainability efforts.”


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