Climate activists call for a ban on fossil fuel ads

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Noble said ads from high-emitting fossil fuel companies that offer renewable energy infrastructure and electric vehicles “mislead the public into thinking that the problems of climate change are solved when they are not.” “.

“Fossil Fuel Ad Ban” campaign includes billboards, posters, digital ads and an open letter signed by 200 medical professionals and organizations concerned about the danger pollution and a destabilized climate pose to human health . The letter cites Yale research that found that pollution from burning coal, oil and gas caused 8.7 million premature deaths in 2018.

“It’s less obvious than smoking,” Noble said of the effect of climate change on public health. “It’s also worse than smoking. The burning of fossil fuels causes more deaths worldwide than tobacco. »

Fossil fuel industries have unique access to mainstream media through advertisements, shaping media reporting narratives and wielding political influence in countries like Australia.

The Sixth Assessment Report of the IPCC

Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) chief executive Julie Flynn said the body was aware of the push and that the advertising industry was “very engaged in this issue”. AANA is a partner in the World Advertising Federation’s Planet Pledge, a set of guidelines aimed at reducing greenwashing.

“All of our members and the entire industry need to understand that greenwashing is a serious issue. Consumers aren’t stupid and if you don’t treat your consumers with respect, you’re going to end up on the wrong side of this debate. .

The AANA will revise its code of environmental claims, confirmed by industry self-regulatory body Ad Standards, later this year. The code states that claims must not be misleading, exaggerate environmental benefits or “imply that the product or service is more socially acceptable” than actually claimed.

“This [review] will be an opportunity for Comms Declare and everyone else to have their say on the code as it currently exists and whether or not it should be changed or changed to reflect the situation we find ourselves in now,” Flynn said. “The issue of bans is a matter for the government. This industry will always comply with all legislative requirements. »

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Flynn noted that France has banned advertising for fossil fuels and high-emission cars like SUVs. Companies that qualify as carbon neutral will have to provide data to prove their claim, and they will be required to show the carbon emissions created by their products or services.

In April, Yarra Council became the first Australian jurisdiction to ban advertisements by fossil fuel companies on council property.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted the role of advertising and public relations in delaying climate action in Australia.

“Fossil fuel industries have unique access to mainstream media through advertisements, shaping media reporting narratives and exerting political influence in countries like Australia,” the report’s authors wrote.

A Glencore spokesperson said: “We are including images of renewable energy in our campaign because, in addition to producing coal, we are also one of Australia’s largest producers of metals (cobalt, nickel, zinc and copper) which are essential for the construction of renewable energies. technologies and electric vehicles.

AGL, Glencore and Santos cited their goals of reaching net zero by 2050 (2040 for Santos).

“We have the largest renewable energy and storage portfolio of any ASX-listed company, having invested $4.8 billion over two decades in renewable and firming power generation,” AGL said. Ampol said his campaign recognizes the energy transition and “how we are evolving to ensure we can continue to meet the energy needs of our customers”.

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In response to a letter sent by Comms Declare to the Prime Minister calling for a ban on gas, coal and oil adverts, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said Australia’s advertising regulations “strike a balance between legitimate commercial interests and appropriate community safeguards”.

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