The following is a summary of updates that Robert Casamento, Edelman’s Global Chair of Climate, Deanna Tallon, Managing Director of Climate & Sustainability and John Edelman, Managing Director of Global Engagement & Corporate Responsibility shared with employees this week. 

Earth Day 2022 has a simple message: “This is the moment to change it all—the business climate, the political climate, and how we take action on climate.”

Over the past few months, teams across Edelman have been working hard to do just that: to be game changers, starting by listening with deep humility, to a wide range of voices, opinions and expertise to guide our actions. As Richard shared in his January climate update, Edelman has a “vital role to play - using communications to drive action, lifestyle changes and cross-industry solutions.”

This Earth Week, we want to share an update on progress underway in fulfilling commitments we made at the start of the year.

1. Walking the talk: We have submitted our companywide emissions reduction target in line with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5° C to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) for independent review and validation. SBTi is a global body enabling businesses to set ambitious emissions reductions targets in line with the latest climate science. It is focused on accelerating companies across the world to halve emissions before 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions before 2050. While our targets are being validated, we will continue to track and reduce emissions from our operations, including our offices, travel and supply chain.

2. Engaging our clients: We have had substantive conversations with clients about our principles, the commitments we have made and the actions we are taking. We have incorporated climate principles into our client acceptance process, focusing on clients in emission-intensive industries. We have decided not to pursue certain new opportunities, and established ongoing follow-up and review of some assignments. We are unable to share specific information due to confidentiality agreements with our clients. We will continue to have conversations with both clients and client teams as part of our journey, and we remain committed to working with all clients who are working toward a net-zero future.

3. Deepening Our Knowledge: We are excited to share that Columbia University’s Climate School will be our academic partner for mandatory firmwide climate training. Columbia University ranks among the top universities in the world and its Climate School is one of the most prestigious academic institutions on climate science.

“This collaboration confirms the importance of building well-informed initiatives that will lead to productive, practical and sustainable solutions to the climate crisis,” said Arthur Lerner-Lam, Senior Advisor to the Co-Founding Deans, Columbia Climate School. “The School is honored to be working with industry leaders such as Edelman in developing the thought leadership that can change the course of society’s climate response across all sectors and all enterprises."

4. Ensuring Independent Expertise: We are honored to announce Edelman’s Independent Council of Climate Experts, an advisory board which will bolster our expertise, advance the firm’s climate strategies and practices, and support efforts to shape global climate communications for the next decade. The Council’s seven inaugural members are experts from around the world, with deep experience in climate science, policy, negotiations, mitigation, leadership, action, collaboration, and consumer engagement. They are:

  • Yufu Cheng, China Director for R20 Regions of Climate Actions, founded by former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger to accelerate green economy investments, specifically around low carbon standards, technologies and business actions; He also served as the China Director for the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and visiting professor at Peking University and Nanjing University
  • Marina Grossi, President, Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development; former negotiator for Brazil at the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); former government advisor and member of the Board of Directors of Neoenergia, Norte Energia S.A. and the Global Reporting Initiative
  • Radley Horton, Lamont Research Professor, Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; Co-leader in the development of the United Nations Environmental Program’s Vulnerability, Impacts, and Adaptation global research agenda
  • Jeremy Oppenheim, founder and senior partner of SYSTEMIQ, an advisory and investment firm that aims to create good disruptions in critical economic systems; previously senior partner at McKinsey, where he established its Sustainability & Resource Productivity Practice, and senior economist at the World Bank
  • Jeff Seabright, co-Founder of IMAGINE, a for-benefit business and foundation dedicated to unlocking the power of business to accelerate achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals; former Chief Sustainability Officer, Unilever and Vice President for Environmental and Water Resources at The Coca-Cola Company
  • Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former Prime Minister of Denmark and member of the Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development; she is also former CEO of Save the Children, and currently a board member of Vestas, among the largest wind turbine companies in the world, member of the Facebook Oversight Group, and member of DJE Board of Directors
  • Tensie Whelan, Clinical Professor of Business and Society at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business; Director, Center for Sustainable Business at NYU; former President of the Rainforest Alliance

We will announce representatives from Africa and India and additional expertise on consumer advocacy in the next few weeks.

5. Setting the bar on high-trust communications: Our work is well underway with SYSTEMIQ to help Edelman further understand and define credible, high-ambition transition pathways to net-zero emissions by sector and translate these pathways into high-trust communications frameworks. The work we are doing to understand the range of issues is expansive and complex, but critically important for us to help our clients navigate a world in transition.

6. Holding ourselves to account: We have established the DJE Board Climate and Sustainability Committee. The board committee will advise on strategy and specific commitments, review our reporting and ensure accountability.

This is just the start. The real work is ahead of us.

Global emissions continue to rise when we need them to fall. Global geopolitics is creating more division when we need more collaboration. Climate ambitions and actions need to aim high and go fast. As a collective world, we are still aiming low and going slow. Transitions and transformation must accelerate and scale.

We have a critical role to play. Collective action is critical to driving change both internally and externally, and that change begins with each of us.