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Edelman to ‘part ways’ with clients that do not meet new climate standards

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Public relations agency Edelman plans to “ditch” with clients that don’t comply with COPs, after reviewing more than 330 clients and a deep dive on 20 emissions-intensive clients. According to CEO Richard Edelman in a blog post dated January 7, the review was led by the agency’s global climate chief, Robert Casamento, and analyzed Carbon Disclosure Project reports and findings, the latest IPCC reports, and industry emissions trajectory analysis.

During the review, Edelman found cases where clients had no public position on the Paris Agreement; Customers without readily available emissions data; Plus a few clients who have zero net ambitions or goals. The agency also found some examples of communications that were subject to challenge and criticism by others, as well as gaps in staff understanding of climate issues. The agency is currently initiating discussions with clients and account teams to confirm its findings and engage in future pathways.

“We want to have a seat at the negotiating table with companies seeking change and help them solve problems more powerfully through trusted communications. This includes rethinking our work to enable us to be in line with our principles and collaborate to make changes,” Edelman said.

The announcement comes after the agency launched Edelman Impact last November, a global practice that aims to harness expertise across Edelman’s current offerings on ESG, Purpose and Sustainability. Edelman Impact was brought up after a petition from Clean Creatives that called on Edelman to “take down Exxon Mobil and all other fossil fuel customers,” according to multiple media reports at the time including New York times. Clean Creatives is an initiative that pushes advertisers, marketers, and PR professionals to cut ties with fossil fuels. Since then, the agency has also committed at the board level to setting a science-based target in line with 1.5°C.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer for November 2021, more than 50% of people do not trust climate communications, and Edelman sees this as an area in which he can contribute more, to have a positive impact in influencing change.

Going forward, the agency plans to work with companies committed to accelerating work to Net Zero and complying with the Paris Agreements; Put science and facts first; advancing best practices and standards for climate communications; and ensuring inclusiveness. At the same time, Edelman will also focus on a fair transition and will hold himself accountable.

Other steps the agency plans to take include investing in mandatory climate change communications training for all staff, to be completed this year; and finalized an independent board of external climate experts to provide input and guidance on strategy and on appointments and client cases of concern.

Edelman will also fund the creation of a World Climate Communication Council with other telecommunications companies to explore ways and make recommendations to advance the implementation of Article 12 of the Paris Agreement. They cover “appropriate measures” on education, training, public awareness, public participation, and what public access to information might look like within the formal COP process.

Meanwhile, Clean Creatives remained skeptical about Edelman’s commitment to climate change. In a series of tweets, she said CEO Richard Edelman “did not take this review process seriously” as there were no external experts involved, and no transparent criteria for assessing clients’ climate goals. “He didn’t even take the full 60 days he said it would be required,” Clean Creatives wrote on Twitter. Edelman said in a previous blog post on November 15 that he would conduct a 60-day portfolio review but check by interactive marketing He found that it was only about 53 days until January 7.

Clean Creatives also claimed that Edelman is “on the path of promoting itself as the agency that only polluters trust”. Meanwhile, Duncan Meisel, campaign manager for Clean Creatives, said in a statement that Edelman would “attempt the classic PR trick of confusing the situation.” “So we want to really make things clear: If Edelman wants to be trusted about the climate, [it needs] to drop fossil fuels. That means ending all of their work with customers who are expanding fossil fuel production, perpetuating climate deception, or blocking climate legislation. Anything less than that is a Green Wash.” interactive marketing Reached out to Edelman for comment.

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