Edelman Completes Customer Review and Publishes Climate Principles | RP

Eight weeks after announcing his intention to make the climate a priority, Edelman completed a customer review and published a set of guidelines to determine which companies he works with.

The review comes just two months after Edelman launched Edelman Impact, an initiative that puts the agency’s ESG, sustainability, purpose and climate offerings at the forefront of its global business strategy. The initiative began days after the company was criticized by celebrities and activists for its work with fossil fuel customers.

Edelman promises to do more to help customers maintain the 1.5 ° C global warming limit agreed to by world leaders in the Glasgow Climate Pact.

“We have 30 years of history of [climate work], starting with dolphin-safe tuna in 1992, ”said CEO Richard Edelman (photo below). “This is an important time for Edelman and an important time for the industry.

The review, led by Edelman’s global climate practice president Robert Casamento, covered more than 330 clients and closely screened 20 emissions-intensive clients around the world. He looked at the client list through the Carbon Disclosure Project scores, IPCC reports, and the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero by 2050 roadmap for the global energy sector. Edelman has not stopped working with any organization following the review, but will be meeting with clients in the coming weeks.

What Casamento and his team found was that while Edelman had helped some organizations slow climate change, others had no readily available emissions data or a public position on the Paris Agreement. A few did not have net zero goals, and others made communication blunders that were challenged or criticized.

“In the whole economy, everyone is in transition and some are further away than others, but what we need to do is move everyone forward,” Casamento said. “This has been a problem with the sustainability industry for a while, but we can no longer just focus on the usual suspects.”

The Edelman Trust Barometer special report from November 2021 found that more than half of people do not trust climate communications.

In response to the review, Edelman created a list of principles to be applied across the firm’s client portfolio. This includes working with organizations committed to accelerating action towards net zero and in compliance with the Paris Agreements; prioritize science and facts; advancing best practices and standards for climate communications; ensure inclusiveness; focusing on a just transition and accountability.

These measures will be implemented in the hope of increasing stakeholder confidence both among customers and internally, while decreasing the prevalence of “greenwashing”. Focusing on the context in both internal and external climate communications is essential to paint the big picture for stakeholders. Over the next few weeks, Edelman and his teams will meet with clients to address these concerns in their business practices.

“A lot of the situations that we have looked at with our clients have revealed that the cause of the delay in action and the misinformation is really contextual,” Casamento said. “Adding context to climate information is an important layer that we need to do, which also means better defining greenwashing. “

Critics of Edelman’s work with fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil have pointed out that just talking about climate initiatives is not enough. Edelman said he looked forward to being held to high standards.

“We are the largest company in the industry; we are the family business; we carry out the confidence barometer; and these three reasons make us a target, ”he said. “If we are to be a target, I would also like to be the example leading that.”

After speaking to customers and applying the principles to the company’s operations, Edelman said he would put his foot down if necessary.

“We will have solid discussions with clients about our principles and what we believe is the best way forward for all businesses,” he said. “Those companies or institutions with which we cannot come to a mutually acceptable place, we will go our separate ways.”

Edelman also plans to establish a “global climate communications council” with other communications, advertising and creative companies around the world to better implement Article 12 of the Paris Agreement. This article focuses on education, training and public awareness to tackle the global climate trust deficit.

Edelman said he has been in contact with WPP CEO Mark Read, who is interested, and Phil Thomas of Cannes Lions, who will be speaking with heads of Interpublic Group and Omnicom Group. Edelman said he also contacted Dentsu.

Clean Creatives, an organization of public relations and advertising professionals who have pushed agencies to stop working with polluters, this week released a precautionary list of criteria for Edelman ahead of his statement on his client review.

The organization, which has been very critical of Edelman, wants the company to ditch all its fossil fuel customers and stop working with business groups that perpetuate climate deception or obstruct climate legislation.

“We know Edelman is going to try the classic PR trick of confusing the situation, so we want to make it very clear: If Edelman is to be trusted with the climate, he has to. move away from fossil fuels, ”said Duncan Meisel, campaign manager for Clean Creatives. said in a statement.

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