Study shows industry is doing more about climate crisis but Climate Comms Group says it’s not enough


The launch of the third annual research report from the PRCA Climate Communication Group – formerly the Misinformation and the Climate Crisis Strategy Group – and research partner Opinium reveals an industry increasingly confident in its ability to guide organisations towards meaningful action on climate issues.

The study of 230 PR and communications professionals explored the attitudes and perceptions of practitioners towards their role and the climate crisis. This year’s study also provided an opportunity for practitioners to show their knowledge about climate justice, where those who least contribute to climate change are among the worst affected by it, through drought, famine, flooding and more. Three fifths of respondents are aware of having to share the responsibility of dealing with climate change.

The research reveals the scale of the PR’s industry’s ethical responsibility, with almost every respondent (95%) advising their clients and colleagues on the climate crisis. Positively, almost all (97%) have described their client/organisation as having at least some knowledge of the climate crisis with almost a fifth (18%) saying they have extensive knowledge of the topic.

Whilst it seems that clients and organisations are acting towards the climate crisis two thirds (66%) agree that clients often jump on the bandwagon of talking about climate change but without acting.

The majority (84%) of respondents agree that the PR and communication industry has a responsibility to stop misinformation about the climate crisis. They also largely settle that the industry has a responsibility to educate their clients (82%) and the same amount (82%) agree that the industry needs to do more to tackle misinformation around the climate crisis.

Other key findings:

  • 44% of respondents believe that clients/organisations have incorrect or misinformed knowledge about climate change
  • 57% of respondents believe that their organisation is not doing enough to address the climate crisis
  • 25% of respondents have experienced attempts at “greenwashing” by clients/bosses
  • 20% of respondents have had clients/bosses who do not believe in the climate crisis in general
  • 72% are advising more frequently about climate crisis issues compared to a year ago, while only 6% are doing so less frequently
  • 53% of respondents have initiated discussions at work related to the climate crisis
  • 40% of respondents have attended climate crisis-related training at work in the last year
  • 41% have followed climate experts/activists for further education

Laura Sutherland FPRCA, development director at 3×1 Group and co-chair of the PRCA Climate Communication Group commented:

“It’s great to see PR and communication professionals remain committed to advising on and communicating climate change, however, less than half of clients or organisations are acting. We all need to play our part! It’s simply not enough to know about it.

“Worryingly, a large number (66 percent) still say that clients often jump on the bandwagon but don’t act on climate change. If the research is representative, it’s no wonder, as a fifth of respondents (20 percent) have had clients or bosses who don’t believe there even is a climate crisis.

“This just underlines the importance of our role as the advisor. We must educate ourselves and we must continue to push for targets to be set in order to move forward and measure any change. This means that policies and processes should all be in alignment and decision-making is taken against those goals.

“The CMA and the ASA are ramping up fines and tighter regulation and the sooner poor and unethical practice is called out, the sooner we can make meaningful progress.

“We want everyone to look at this crisis as an opportunity change things for the better – not just for the next generation, we need it starting now.”

Research for Communications Specialist at Opinium, Henry Oliver, said:

“Over the past few years, the demand for communications consultancy around the climate crisis has grown rapidly, and it has become part and parcel of the job to advise on the issue.

“Many communication professionals see work in this space as an opportunity to push back against greenwashing and use their expertise to help companies develop and communicate a sustainability strategy. However, as practitioners upskill and educate themselves, they may be at odds with clients or their own organisation who don’t yet have the expertise to properly tackle the issue – or may not be willing to.

“It’s important consultancies do what they advise others to do: reflecting their advice in policies and sustainability efforts, making sure there are clear ethical boundaries so practitioners can feel comfortable that their work – and their employer – are truly supporting sustainability efforts.”

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