Thought Leadership

A Total Eclipse of the Smart

Ben Somerset-How

Client Director


It’s these small steps, first in our offices, then our industries and then out in the world, that guarantee climate change can no longer be denied, or even ignored.

Ben Somerset-How

Eight months in and it has been a big year in terms of the environment. But as we’ve found out, bigger isn’t always better.

This month we reached Earth Overshoot Day. That is to say that we had used a year’s worth of natural resources in just eight months, or ‘more ecological resources and services than nature can regenerate through overfishing, overharvesting forests, and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than forests can sequester.’

Whilst the man with the biggest job in the world has certainly had a big impact on the environment. In little more than seven months, President Donald Trump has already signed orders to significantly reduce the headcount, budget and remit of the Environment Agency and withdrawn the US from the Paris Agreement. But then, this is a man for whom science has never been a strong suit, strolling out onto the White House balcony last week to look at the solar eclipse without eye protection.

On the flipside, there is former Vice President Al Gore whose sequel to An Inconvenient TruthAn Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Powerwas released in UK cinemas this month. Back at AdWeek Europe in Marchour Business Director Monika Zalaite and I were lucky enough to hear his keynote speech. The environment was a huge part of the festival, with AdWeek Executive Director, Matt Scheckner, saying: “Leveraging the Advertising Week Europe platform to shine the spotlight on climate change transcends the industry and is exactly the kind of impact issue that defines our DNA.”

Whilst Gore brought to the fore the climate disasters of recent times, he was positive about the situation in which we have the technology and desire to make change and that global demand for energy is actually declining as we become more efficient. He pointed to Chile as a leader of renewable energy commitment. One interesting conclusion he drew was that Brexit can be traced back to climate change. He says that due to the extreme drought in the Middle East, huge numbers of farms were destroyed and people displaced. Those people moved to the Syrian cities, which also saw an influx of refugees from the Iraq War. WikiLeaks released documents between the Syrian government stating that there was going to be a ‘social explosion’. The resultant Syrian war and consequent refugee crisis saw European cities being directly affected. Britain sees the ramifications of the refugee crisis in Europe, sensationalised by the press and used by politicians to further their agenda and the result is protectionist thinking. When the referendum vote is cast, it is this protectionist thinking that results in Brexit.

Brand-wise we have seen AB Inbev pledge to source 100% of its power from renewable sources by 2025. Brands are more and more taking up causes in this age of transparency and consumer choice, led by Unilever and their sustainability programme (which they show has had positive effect on the bottom line).

At Creativebrief we have sustainability and environmentalism at our core. Running reviews through our platform, using online case studies rather than the traditional hard-copy paper creds is where that starts. That has meant we have attracted people to the business who hold those beliefs too. We are a group of people who have a fundamental love of the outdoors – whether it be skiing, cycling, rugby, football, rock climbing, basketball or marathon running. This might not sound like anything special but we are a group of people keen to preserve the environment we enjoy so much for the next generations – and surely that is where change starts.

Whilst there are climate change deniers in the world, let alone in the White House, supporting the environment will always prove a struggle. But it’s these small steps, first in our offices, then our industries and then out in the world, that guarantee climate change can no longer be denied, or even ignored.