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Sustainability continues to hold a commanding position in corporate agendas.

Discussion around the promise and fascination of the transforming power of ESG for financial services is increasingly tinged with debate and concern. Regulators are tightening policy around sustainability disclosures. The Transition Plan Taskforce’s (TPT) regulatory guidelines for climate reporting, which are expected to be released ahead of November, may tighten them further. Elsewhere there’s a growing backlash to rapid expansion of sustainable investment.

The scale and scope of sustainability journalism has mushroomed over the last 12 months. International media such as Reuters, Bloomberg and The Financial Times have all expanded their ESG, Environment and Climate teams and introducing additional ‘green’ newsletters and podcasts to keep abreast with the fast-paced industry.

The approach of COP27, the annual global climate summit, represents an opportunity to engage with this expanded media at this critical time. It can be hard to keep pace – following journalists on Twitter will only take you so far. But fear not – we at Cognito have gathered intel from our media relationships to assemble key insights ahead of November.  

  1. In-person attendance is growing

COP27 is an interim event, where unlike in Glasgow, countries won’t have to make pledges on reducing carbon emissions. The media aren’t buying it. We expect the press lounge in the blue zone at the Sharm El-Sheikh International Convention Centre (SHICC) to be as busy as last year. Editors from nationals and newswires, as well as senior reporters from sustainability trade publications have all confirmed they will be attending in-person. They view the event as an opportunity to catch-up with sources from across the global climate ecosystem, and interrogate businesses on how their net zero pledges are translating into action.

  1. The launch of themed pages and portals

Sustainability and sustainable finance online publication is planning to dedicate a week in October to content and hosting events based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. November will then be based on the theme, “NetZero November”.

ESG Clarity have already launched their annual COP page, which is dedicated to covering news in the lead up to and throughout the conference. Other trade reporters have anecdotally discussed their editorial decision to focus on biodiversity and the blue economy, a key concern of COP27, towards the close of the year. 

We are seeing media run highly bespoke and dedicated schedules and specialised platforms, which will only expand as we approach COP.

  1. Demand for water-tight data

Cognito’s sustainable finance communications report, ‘The communications of the climate transition’, found that ESG data and ratings are becoming more important to reporters seeking compelling ESG insights. The past year has seen more trade publications hire their first data journalists in the hopes of sniffing out greenwashing and self-serving content. This appetite for data is not abating. As we head towards COP27, we are seeing a demand for data as journalists seek to understand how businesses actioning pledges made last year. The current emphasis on progress is fueling demand for data-driven insights that can verify claimed progress.

With less than 60 days to go, it is a crucial time for firms to engage in the sustainability agenda and see how and with whom they can collaborate to pave a way for a more sustainable future. Hopefully the above points will help firm’s looking to communicate engage with the media authentically and effectively.

Olivia Newcombe is a senior account executive in Cognito’s London office. You can read more about Cognito’s sustainability practice here.