The United Nations climate summit, known as COP28, has recently concluded in Dubai, marking another milestone in the global effort to tackle climate change. With nearly 200 countries coming together to discuss and negotiate a new global pact, the event has attracted significant attention from various stakeholders, including businesses, NGOs, and activists.
In this article, we will delve into the key takeaways from COP28 and discuss what marketers should know about the 2024 Climate Talks. We’ll explore the shifting focus on food systems and agriculture, the absence of clear timelines for phasing out fossil fuels, and the significant role that PR firms played in shaping the discourse around the summit.
The Good: A Focus on Food Systems and Agriculture
One notable development at COP28 was the increased emphasis on food systems and agriculture. Unlike previous summits, this year’s event recognized the critical role of regenerative agriculture in combating climate change. The final draft of the global stocktake, the official name for the climate deal, urged nations to prioritize the sustainable production of food.
According to Ethan Soloviev, Chief Innovation Officer at sustainability intelligence platform HowGood, COP28 witnessed a greater awareness and nuance around food systems. He highlighted the inclusion of food in the global stocktake as a significant step forward. Brands like Nestlé, Unilever, and Carrefour had a presence at the summit, collaborating with NGOs, activists, and data providers to advocate for the integration of food systems language in the climate deal.
The Bad: Lack of Clear Timelines for Phasing Out Fossil Fuels
Despite the progress made in addressing food systems and agriculture, COP28 failed to establish clear timelines for phasing out fossil fuels. While the final draft of the global stocktake mentioned fossil fuels, it did not provide a concrete plan for transitioning away from them. This omission raised concerns among various stakeholders, particularly the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).
AOSIS criticized the final text for its incremental approach and the presence of what they deemed as “loopholes.” They emphasized that referencing scientific findings alone is not enough and that more decisive action is necessary. However, Soloviev argued that the absence of government-led plans for phasing out fossil fuels places the responsibility on corporations, NGOs, and data transparency companies like HowGood to drive immediate climate action.
The Greenwashed: PR Firms and Their Influence
In the lead-up to COP28, PR firms played a significant role in shaping the narrative surrounding the summit. Working on behalf of fossil fuel companies and major corporations, PR agencies influenced various aspects of the COP process. From shaping the image of the COP28 president, who was also the CEO of a state-funded oil company, to securing the bid to host the event, these firms wielded considerable influence.
Tom Brookes, CEO of the climate communications firm Global Strategic Communications Council, highlighted the unprecedented scale of PR agency engagement during COP28. While their involvement may not be as overtly political as lobbying efforts, their impact on shaping public perception is substantial. Harriet Kingaby, head of ACT Climate Labs and co-chair of the Conscious Advertising Network, warned of the potential for greenwashing and the need to protect the integrity of climate change information in the media space.
The Future of COP: Takeaways for Marketers
As marketers, it is crucial to stay informed about the outcomes and trends of international climate conferences like COP28. Here are some key takeaways to consider:
1. Embrace the Focus on Food Systems
The increased attention on food systems and agriculture provides an opportunity for brands to align their sustainability efforts with global climate goals. Consider integrating regenerative and sustainable practices into your supply chain, supporting local farmers, and promoting transparency in your food production processes. These actions not only contribute to climate resilience but also resonate with conscious consumers.
2. Fill the Gap Left by Governments
While governments play a vital role in shaping climate policies, their slow progress necessitates action from businesses, NGOs, and data transparency companies. Take the lead by setting ambitious goals to reduce your carbon footprint, transitioning to renewable energy sources, and advocating for stronger regulations. By demonstrating environmental leadership, you can inspire others and contribute to the collective effort to address climate change.
3. Be Cautious of Greenwashing
The influence of PR firms during COP28 highlights the importance of maintaining transparency and integrity in your sustainability messaging. Avoid greenwashing, which involves misleading consumers about the environmental impact of your products or services. Instead, focus on genuine sustainability initiatives and communicate your efforts honestly. Engage with consumers through informative content, highlighting the positive changes you are making and encouraging them to join the movement.
4. Collaborate with NGOs and Activists
Building partnerships with NGOs and activists can amplify your sustainability initiatives and lend credibility to your brand. Work together to advocate for stronger regulations, support community-led projects, and raise awareness about climate change. By aligning your brand with trusted organizations, you can leverage their expertise and resources to drive meaningful change.
5. Stay Informed and Engaged
Climate conferences like COP28 provide valuable insights into the evolving landscape of environmental sustainability. Stay informed about the latest developments, research emerging trends, and engage with industry experts. Actively participate in relevant forums, conferences, and online communities to share knowledge and learn from others. By staying ahead of the curve, you can position your brand as a thought leader and adapt to the changing expectations of consumers.
See first source: Adweek
1. What was the focus of COP28 in Dubai?
COP28, the United Nations climate summit, had a significant focus on addressing climate change. It emphasized the importance of regenerative agriculture and sustainable food systems in combating climate change.
2. Why is the emphasis on food systems and agriculture significant at COP28?
Unlike previous summits, COP28 recognized the critical role of regenerative agriculture and sustainable food production in mitigating climate change. It urged nations to prioritize the sustainable production of food as part of the global climate deal.
3. Which brands were involved in advocating for food systems at COP28?
Brands like Nestlé, Unilever, and Carrefour were present at COP28 and collaborated with NGOs, activists, and data providers to advocate for the integration of food systems language in the climate deal.
4. What was one of the shortcomings of COP28 according to some stakeholders?
COP28 failed to establish clear timelines for phasing out fossil fuels, which raised concerns among various stakeholders, including the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).
5. How do stakeholders intend to address the lack of clear timelines for fossil fuel phase-out?
Some stakeholders believe that the absence of government-led plans for phasing out fossil fuels places the responsibility on corporations, NGOs, and data transparency companies to drive immediate climate action.
6. How did PR firms influence COP28?
PR firms played a significant role in shaping the narrative surrounding COP28. They worked on behalf of fossil fuel companies and major corporations to influence various aspects of the summit, including image-building and securing the bid to host the event.
7. What is the potential concern related to PR firms and COP28?
There is concern about greenwashing, where PR firms may mislead the public about the environmental impact of their clients’ activities. It highlights the need to protect the integrity of climate change information in the media space.
8. What are the key takeaways for marketers from COP28?
Marketers should embrace the focus on food systems, fill the gap left by governments by taking environmental leadership, be cautious of greenwashing, collaborate with NGOs and activists, and stay informed and engaged in sustainability initiatives and trends.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Li-An Lim; Unsplash – Thank you!