In Blog

A burning issue: COP26 and the role of communications

By Sophie Bigaignon – Partnerships Chair, IABC Victoria

Upon joining Instagram in 2020, Sir David Attenborough stated in his first post on the platform that “saving our planet is now a communications challenge”.

As global momentum builds ahead of 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, communicators all over the world are eager to prove to him that they are up to the task.

Regarded as the summit to secure global net zero emissions by mid-century, and to set out plans to ‘build back better’ through a green recovery following the pandemic, COP26 is expected to be a pivotal moment in the fight against climate change.

With examples of “greenwashing” aplenty, endless mixed messaging, and an at times vague collective understanding of the meaning of ‘net zero’, as communicators, we have a central role to play in generating awareness, and guiding our organisations to drive and influence change.

Those hoping to get away with paying lip service to sustainability and climate change will most certainly get left behind.

Here are two good reads from our reading list:

Ahead of COP26, SEC Newgate global ESG poll shows environment and climate top public fears’, SEC Newgate, UK

Global Strategic Communications and Advocacy Group, SEC Newgate’s inaugural 10-country global research study of public attitudes to ESG principles for governments and corporates has found that environment, especially climate change, dominates people’s concerns. The public expects government to lead on these issues, and expects companies to demonstrate clear evidence that they practice what they preach.

Clever communicating required to be heard at crowded COP26’, Public Relations and Communications Association

While COP26 is an important point in time, we are reminded to consider the before, during and after. Expect any ‘Glasgow Agreement’ to continue being consistently discussed over the coming years, much in the same way the Kyoto Protocol was, and the Paris Agreement continues to.