Today, we are proud to publish Shape History’s Plan for the Planet – our response to the climate crisis, detailing how we as a business can make the biggest impact now, and throughout the next 7 pivotal years leading up to 2030.
First, let’s talk about why we have developed this…
As a social impact communications agency, our purpose as a company is to create a fairer world, faster. We work with partners (other agencies call them clients) across the full spectrum of the 2030 agenda, using smart strategy and creative communications to accelerate progress and drive impact.
But there is a simple truth. Creating a fairer world is not possible without a safe and sustainable climate. As well as the destructive effects on the habitability of our planet for all living things, climate change fiercely fuels many of society’s greatest challenges – poverty and injustice deepens, health perils surge, and food scarcity tightens. Everything is interlinked, and one can’t be solved without the other.
Everyone – and every company – must play their part. So Shape History is.
WHAT IS SHAPE HISTORY DOING?
Two years ago, we created an environmental steering group to assess how we as a company can create the most impact to limit global warming and protect our planet. This has involved a lot of research, a lot of education, and a lot of data analysis…
Since then, we have partnered with Greenly to support us with conducting our GHG emissions assessments. Ultimately, this work has confirmed much of what we already knew, but has given us much more detailed data that we can use to fuel our actions.
It has also given rise to a three-pronged strategy to guide us throughout future years…
1. We are committed to reducing our emissions by 50% by 2030 and contributing to global carbon neutrality in line with the Paris Agreement.
As a small to medium-sized company, our emissions are low, but we can still be big and bold by cutting them. We are using 2022 as our base year of emissions to model and benchmark our reduction. In 2022, our overall footprint as a company was 113.3 tCO2e, with minimal Scope 1 and 2 emissions at 4.8 tCO2e. The bulk, 108.5 tCO2e, came from Scope 3 emissions in our supply chain – the products we buy and the services we use.
Say that again?
Struggling to understand what all of this means? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We appreciate that that was a lot of data and terminology, so we’ve provided a deeper breakdown with an explainer of what this data is and what it means here.
Armed with the knowledge on our emissions and the key sources driving them, we are proud to have joined thousands of other UK businesses through the SME Climate Hub to commit to a 50% reduction. As part of this, we have two goals and types of metrics to use:
- Absolute: First, we aim for an absolute reduction, striving to cut our emissions by half from 113 to 56.5 tons of CO2 by 2030. This will be extremely challenging as lot of our emissions comes from suppliers, purchasing, and is attributed through cost-based calculations. As our company grows and our expenditure increases, so likely will our emissions. However, we want to be ambitious and look at ways that we can decouple growth from reduced emissions.
- Intensity: The second goal involves reducing our current emissions per unit of another measure, like tons of carbon emitted per million pounds of revenue we secure or per employee of the agency. This is known as intensity-based metrics. By measuring this, we can gauge the effectiveness of our practices in becoming a more sustainable company as we expand. For example, if we grow, become far more sustainable and less carbon-intensive, and take market share and employees from other unsustainable companies and organisations, it will be better for the planet that they work for us.
To guide us in achieving this, we have set a clear year-on-year roadmap with reduction targets. Whilst we don’t have all the answers yet for exactly how we are going to achieve this – we’re already making a start with the introduction of new internal policies and processes such as reducing air travel, switching electricity providers and reducing energy usage, and moving to more sustainable suppliers – including our banking.
Please note, due to company growth prior to finalising this strategy and high impact emission reduction policies only starting to be rolled out, we expect our next assessment for 2023 to show up to a 10% increase in our overall emissions. From 2024 onwards, we have set clear targets for year-on-year decreases.
2. We will support our own people to become more sustainable climate-conscious citizens, and our partners to commit to climate action.
Protecting our planet is more than just focussing our own emissions. As a service agency, we recognise we have a small carbon footprint as a business — but significant influence as an employer and partner.
We will therefore focus on further educating our team, introducing new policies to become more sustainable in their day-to-day work and lives – such as reducing meat and dairy consumption, switching their bank and pension funds.
Additionally, our partners are made up of some of the biggest organisations in the world, with large operations and financial endowments. We will push them by having at times difficult conversations to ensure they deliver meaningful action on climate change.
3. We will accelerate progress in our sector and community.
Finally, we believe our voice, expertise, and platform is a vital tool in our arsenal. We have power, privileges, and resources to kickstart conversations and pressure for action. The broader communications and marketing industry is an enabler of greenwashing and fossil fuel investment – and we need to stop this. We are also proud to be a part of Clean Creatives – meaning we’ll never take a single penny from fossil fuel financiers.
Climate change, and a lack of meaningful action is in many ways a failure of communications. As researchers, strategists, creative communicators and campaigners, we also believe we have expertise to support climate innovators and changemakers communicate more effectively to accelerate impact.
We will therefore pressure for emissions reduction within our sector and the wider B Corp community, focus on scaling up our work with new and existing climate focussed partners to be bigger, bolder, and more audience centric in their communications, and we will share knowledge and lessons learned openly to support others.
MEASURING IMPACT, BEING HELD ACCOUNTABLE, AND THE JOURNEY AHEAD…
Our plan for the planet that we are publishing today is only a starting point. We want to be honest in that we don’t fully have all of the answers to every single question. As we get better at measuring our emissions over future years – moving away from majority cost-based to activity based calculations – we’ll pinpoint new problems and ideate new solutions.
There’s also wider change needed within our society and the systems that support it to help us get to where we want to be. For example, there’s not currently a “perfect” bank for businesses to bank with, and our electricity grid isn’t fully decarbonised – even if we use sustainable, green energy suppliers.
We are excited to meet this ambition. We have a clear roadmap on where we want to get to, with targets that we need to achieve year by year. Annually, we will measure our emissions and publish the findings in full so we can be held accountable, and we’ll use these yearly assessments to evolve our strategy and the associated actions we need to take. Following this, each year we will additionally publish an update on what we have and haven’t achieved in the previous year, and how we are evolving our strategy in the future.
Together, let’s protect our planet for today, and generations to come.