England: A Fly on the Wall on the Publishers Association’s Climate Pledge

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Independent press Fly on the Wall is a signatory to the UK Publishers Association’s ‘Publishing Declares’ climate effort.

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By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Currently 168 Signatories: Publishing Declares
Created in 2021 with 39 original founding signatories, the Publishing Declares program from the United Kingdom’s Publishers Association is one of several efforts to focus awareness and commitment on issues and responsibilities around the climate crisis. It is, for example, not unlike the International Publishers Association‘s (IPA) SDG Publishers Compact, created with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals program to register commitment and guide publishers in developing their responses to the crisis.

While for some publishing and related-industry firms a climate-response commitment is a box to be checked, something done once with some fanfare and then moved past, other companies are working to re-assess and re-dedicate themselves to their efforts annually.

In the Publishing Declares program, signatories agree to:

  • Take action on climate relative to “setting ambitious, measurable targets across our own operations and extended supply chain to achieve net zero as soon as possible and by 2050 at the latest”
  • Protect life on land by “working with supply-chain partners that are resource efficient, use sustainable materials and processes wherever possible in the content we produce, and constantly innovating to make use of new and recycled materials”
  • Strengthen partnerships by collaborating “with our peers, authors, illustrators, supply chain partners and business partners to translate our climate aspirations and commitments into tangible actions to safeguard our planet for future generations”
  • Educating for sustainability by “empowering our colleagues to become climate literate and support them to bring that knowledge into the work that they do”
  • And advocating for sustainability using “our expertise, platform, and voice to raise awareness and drive positive climate action wherever we can”

Signatories on the Publishing Declares site are categorized into groups of publishing; production and supply; bookselling; and writing and illustration.

The Publishers Association, working on the project in cooperation with the Booksellers Association and the Society of Authors, reports that there are so far 168 signatories to date, including the biggest multinational houses and many independent presses, among them HarperCollins UK, Pan Macmillan, Penguin Random House UK; Simon & Schuster UK; Elsevier; Oneworld; Nosy Crow; Canongate; Princeton University Press; Saqi Press; Springer Nature; Wiley; Saraband; Lantana Publishing; Tate Publishing; Duckworth Books; Faber & Faber; and many more.

Fly on the Wall Press’ 2024 Commitment

Based in Manchester, Fly on the Wall press presents itself as “a publisher with a conscience,” not only signing the Publishing Declares pledge but also working to produce titles that in one way or another engage readers on climate issues, something that many publishers don’t always see as an important part of their own potential role in answering the climate emergency.

Today’s announcement from the company notes that its list includes ecologically pertinent works:

For young people, the company says it operates Climate Anxiety Workshops, funded by Writerz and Scribez, events that take the form of creative-writing and mental-health workshops.

In reporting by Bloomberg’s Laura Millan and Francine Lacqua, Al Gore at Davos has said that some of the 197 nations at the Dubai COP28 are trying to get around the historic agreement they made to accelerate the removal of fossil fuels from their energy systems in this decade, eliminating them by the middle of the century. “There are so  many loopholes and so many tricky phrases,” he’s quoted saying.

If anything, there’s a substantive role to be played by the publishing industry in each international market on developing and energizing the narrative—through fiction as well as nonfiction—and not just in making sure that paper for print books is responsibly sourced. It’s obviously easier in some ways for a small press like Fly on the Wall to make such moves as donating £1,450 (US$1,831) proceeds from the press’ Planet in Peril and Bratten’s Climacteric to the World Wildlife Fund and the Climate Coalition. The company says its workspaces are powered by renewable energy; pre-orders guide its print runs; and its packaging is 100-percent recyclable. All good.

But an example like Fly on the Wall might help the professional industry remember something more important, something mentioned frequently by Elsevier‘s sustainability director, Rachel Martin: When it comes to the messaging, the publishing industry clearly has a role to play that isn’t limited to reconfiguring its own processes and procedures. Giving voice to the mission may be the most important element of all, and it’s uniquely in reach of the world’s storytelling industry.

More from Publishing Perspectives on sustainability is here, more on the SDG Publishers Compact is here, more on the International Publishers Association is here, and more on the international climate crisis is here. More on the United Kingdom’s publishing market is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the International Publishers Association’s world media partner.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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