The Rundown: Future plc wants to be carbon-neutral by 2026

climate change revenue

Fresh off a year of strong growth, Future plc wants to future-proof its business in more ways than one: The U.K.-based publisher will try to go carbon-neutral in the next five years, the company said in documents it released yesterday.

The key details

  • Future’s environmental goals were part of a broader “Responsibility Strategy” document unveiled Thursday. The strategy includes targets around transparency, using the publisher’s portfolio of brands to “amplify and promote issues” related to environmental protection and social justice  
  • The documents included audits and evaluations of Future’s greenhouse gas emissions, as well as its prospects for achieving neutrality. 
  • Earlier this week, Future announced full fiscal year earnings of $802 million, up 79% year over year, with much of the gains driven by acquisitions it made of brands including 12 Dennis Publishing titles and Marie Claire’s U.S. operation; organic revenue grew 23%, Future said.

A green year

Thanks in part to COP26, 2021 was a year when companies in the media industry began to speak more publicly about what they were doing to reduce carbon footprints and the environmental impact of their business operations.

While some publishers have gotten involved — BBC Future Planet, a small sub-brand within BBC News, spent the year sharing what it learned about trying to make its own vertical carbon-neutral — agencies have been out in front of signaling they are serious about the environment: The media agency Essence, for example, introduced a carbon calculator designed to show clients the carbon impact of their media plans, and a coalition of publishers, agencies, broadcasters and analytics firms rolled out DIMPACT, a tool that calculates the greenhouse gas emissions associated with serving media content.  

Future is not the only media company with publicly stated carbon neutrality goals. Both BBC and Condé Nast aim to become carbon neutral by 2030; in October, Axel Springer, through its support of different subsidiaries, aims to become carbon neutral by 2023.

Outgrowing (some of) the problem

To some extent, Future is hampered by ongoing study of how the media supply chain generates greenhouse gases. But its executives are likely pleased by one of their audit’s key findings: as Future has grown, it has become more efficient. The intensity ratio of its greenhouse gas emissions, which compares the tons of greenhouse gas emitted by business operations to millions of pounds of revenue generated, have dropped steadily as its revenues have grown, according to documents it released Thursday. 

From 2020 to 2021, Future’s intensity ratio fell 29%.

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