The COP 26 conference has concluded, and while opinion remains divided on whether it can truly be called a success, the more prominent role played by businesses in the event signals a shift to a new era, in which net zero is now the norm. Brand pledges, initiatives, and eco-activations came thick and fast over the fortnight: below we round up some of the standout examples. The hard work starts here.

Courtesy of Burberry 02
  • Burberry unveiled a new biodiversity strategy, pledging to ‘protect, restore and regenerate nature,’ applying a nature-based approach to its value chain. In a statement, Chair of Burberry, Dr Gerry Murphy said, “"Protecting, restoring and regenerating nature is key to safeguarding the planet for generations to come, and we must be ambitious in our intentions and action-oriented in our approach.” The rising importance of nature was a key theme at the conference, where almost 100 companies also pledged to become ‘nature positive.’
  • Twelve UK media brands including BBC, Sky, ITV and Discovery launched the Climate Content Pledge, a commitment that will see signatories increase the quantity and quality of climate change storytelling.
  • GSK’s Otrivin brand brought the Air Bubble to COP26, an air purifying playground installation to raise awareness of the ongoing problem of polluted air, which currently affects 93% of the world’s children. The bubble demonstrates the power of microalgae to mitigate pollution in urban spaces.
  • Snuggly footwear brand Ugg launched a partnership with NuShoe to offer a refurbishment program for US shoe owners dubbed Uggrenew. By 2023 the brands hope to be able to service 250,000 pairs per year. Repair services to extend product life are an increasingly important offer for fashion and retail brands.
  • Hellmann’s created an installation called ‘The Food Waste effect’ that aimed to highlight the link between food waste and climate change. The Unilever brand partnered with multidisciplinary artist Itamar Gilboa, who cast waste items in plaster to highlight their enduring impact on the planet.
  • UK broadcaster Sky aired the first Net Zero Carbon Ad Break to coincide with COP26, featuring five winners of its Footprint Fund (including Ovo Energy and the OLIO food waste app). The fund aims to support businesses who inspire the transition to net zero. The Grand Prix winner, period product brand Here we Flo received GBP £1m in media value, with the four finalists receiving £250,000 each.
  • Patagonia’s environmental action and initiatives director for EMEA Beth Thoren announced in a Fortune op-ed that the company was no longer using the word sustainable, in a bid to honestly acknowledge its struggles to achieve carbon neutrality. As reported in our Regeneration Rising report this year, facing up to the climate crisis will require brands to be brutally honest and transparent about their performance.
  • AXA XL launched the Coastal Risk Index, a new tool which maps current and future flood risks, integrating the protective benefits of coastal ecosystems. The brand hopes the tool will build the case for nature-based solutions, like the restoration of mangrove and coral reefs.
  • It wasn’t easy to snag a pass for COP26, but Google made the conference widely accessible by sharing content from the Green Zone, which is dedicated to youth groups, artists, civil society, academia and business. Relive highlights from the event via the Google Arts and Culture platform.
  • Car manufacturers and service brands including Volvo, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Uber were among 100 signatories to the Glasgow Declaration on Zero Emission Cars and Vans which pledges to make all new vehicles zero emissions by 2040. (Although the pledge, from which some big names were missing, including Toyota and Volkswagen, was dismissed by environmental groups as ‘disappointingly weak.’)

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