Posted on 15th November 2022

Climate Content Pledge drives increase in sustainable screen content

As we reach a year since the announcement of the Climate Content Pledge unveiling at COP26 by albert and the UK's top broadcasters and streamers, see the progress which has been made so far

The Climate Content Pledge, unveiled last year at COP26, has led to more programmes which include ‘climate content’ now reaching audiences – and winning awards – across a wide range of genres including comedy, factual, drama, entertainment and events. A partnership between eBay and ITV’s Love Island, to promote pre-loved fashion, led to over half of those aware of the partnership saying they had bought pre-loved clothing after watching the show, while Emmerdale has featured sustainable food systems. In October, the BBC’s Frozen Planet II joined forces with EastEnders for a one-off version of the soap’s end credits, showing a flooded version of the iconic map of London’s East End to highlight the challenges associated with a warming climate and rising sea levels.

Sky has a dedicated children’s animation with planet-saving alien Obki, which launched in 2021. Britain’s Poisoned Rivers, a new commission from Channel 5, will examine the crisis facing the UK’s waterways, and Channel 4’s award-winning Joe Lycett vs The Oil Giant took a closer look at Shell’s sustainability claims. From S4C, Y Byd ar Bedwar explored the effects of carbon off-setting schemes in Wales while STV’s Sean’s Scotland sees weatherman Sean Batty meet local people involved in sustainable community-based projects. UKTV’s forthcoming comedy We Are Not Alone, features invading aliens who, having lost their own planet through a catastrophic climate event, arrive on earth to find humans knowingly poisoning themselves with fossil fuels.

Behind the scenes, changes are being made to weave sustainability requirements into the commissioning process, with many of the media brands making these considerations mandatory for editorial and the production itself. Dedicated training is being offered to commissioning staff on how best to feature climate change, along with tracking of issues in content to ensure teams learn from what works well.

We are excited to see the progress being made across the industry - and all genres. Although longer lead times for some programmes means there will be titles in the pipeline, the industry needs to go further and faster still. The most recent warnings from the UN make clear this action is urgent and our industry is crucial to enabling transformational change. albert is growing and developing support for the industry in making this crucial next step.

— Carys Taylor, director of albert

Designed to improve on-screen storytelling around climate change action, the Pledge brings together 12 of the UK and Ireland’s largest media brands: the BBC, BBC Studios, BritBox International, Channel 4, Channel 5/ Paramount UK, Warner Bros. Discovery UK & Ireland (previously Discovery UK & Ireland), ITV, RTE, S4C, Sky, STV, UKTV.

In the last year since the Pledge was signed, albert has worked closely with commissioning teams to embed sustainability at the very beginning of the production process, providing bespoke editorial training to over 1000 people since 2021, and launching a new Editorial Engagement Tool, freely available to help those working in TV and film, to help consider new ways to bring climate storytelling into their programmes. It is also carrying out in-depth analysis of the impact of content on sustainable behaviour.

Several signatories to the pledge have funded the first pan-broadcaster research, giving an overview of audience perceptions of climate change, their roles in tackling it and the hurdles faced by the television industry in helping inspire audiences to change their behaviour, and how best to do this.  albert will be sharing some emerging headlines from the research over the coming months.

Read the full press release here.

The Climate Content Pledge Signatories

The Climate Content Pledge Signatories