Open letter to communications industry bodies of Australia

  • Posted by Cally Jackson
  • On 4 October 2020
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Dear Public Relations Institute of Australia; International Association of Business Communicators, Australia; Association of National Advertisers; Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising; and, Media Federation of Australia

The communications industries are responsible for promoting and safeguarding clients’ businesses, profits and reputations. We are also integral in shaping narratives around the biggest threat humanity currently faces – climate breakdown.

The planet could reach 1.5 degrees average warming on pre-industrial levels by 20241​. At that time, we will see more extreme weather, food insecurity and mass extinctions on land and sea2​.

Comms Declare represents more than 200 industry professionals and 30 organisations that have agreed to not promote:

  • the growth of fossil fuels
  • the continuation of high greenhouse gas pollution as ‘business as usual’
  • deception, distraction or spin around science or climate actions.

While many in marketing, PR, media and advertising are doing great work in sustainability, others are enabling and promoting the growth of greenhouse gas pollution – especially coal, gas and oil. Often this is done innocently, or under the guise of promoting sustainability.

Most of your own codes of ethics ask that members are honest and fair. Some require that members do not disseminate misleading information, that they be prepared to disclose the funding sources of any communication, avoid conflicts and act in the interests of the public.

However, there are organisations and individuals, including some of your members, doing exactly those things in relation to climate. As Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal3​ ​and gas4​, this has global ramifications.

Climate and sustainability are complex and confusing areas. We strongly believe your role as industry bodies should be to help members clarify what will, and won’t, help reduce greenhouse pollution.


We ask you to urgently:

  • publicly acknowledge the climate crisis
  • commit to an industry target of 45-65% emissions reductions by 2030 and net zero by 2050
  • create greater understanding about greenwashing, climate minimisation and misdirection
  • encourage greater transparency and accountability around fossil fuel promotions

We note that several other industry groups, including the Australian Medical Association, Business Council of Australia, Australian Institute of Architects and National Farmers Federation, have publicly voiced their support for climate action.

Comms Declare, and its members, want our professions to be respected, ethical and on the right side of history.

We invite you to meet with us to discuss how we can work together to make this a reality.

Yours Sincerely
Belinda Noble & Cally Jackson
Co-founders, Comms Declare

1https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/world-hit-15-degree-warming-threshold-years-71687896
2https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/
3http://www.worldstopexports.com/coal-exports-country/
4https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/australia-worlds-largest-gas-exporter/

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