Advertisements for cars and flights have helped generate emissions more than double Spain’s national greenhouse gas output, according to new research from Greenpeace Nordic and the New Weather Institute.
In a new report, the two campaigning organizations attempted to estimate the impact of car and airline advertising on carbon emissions in 2019, both in the EU and globally.
He concluded that car and airline advertising helped boost sales, resulting in between 202 and 606 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, a window that ranges from The Netherlands’ total annual greenhouse gas production is twice the emissions generated annually by Spain.
Andrew Simms, co-director of the New Weather Institute, said the findings strengthen the case for ending product advertising that drives consumption of high-carbon products. “Advertising is fanning the flames of a warming world by promoting big polluters, like the aviation and auto industries, just as it once blew smoke in people’s faces by selling cigarettes,” he said. “The easiest way to start reducing carbon emissions is to end the excesses that only happen because ads drive higher consumption. We ended tobacco advertising to save lives , now is the time to do the same for ads from major climate polluters.”
Car advertising is responsible for the lion’s share of emissions covered by the report, which estimates that greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the promotion of carbon-intensive vehicles in 2019 could have reached 572 million tonnes of CO2. , a figure of 27 million tonnes more than Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
Airline advertising emissions were found to be lower than those generated by car advertising, but by no means weak. At 34 million tonnes of CO2, the upper range of estimated emissions attributed to flight advertising is roughly equivalent to the emissions generated by burning 17 million tonnes of coal.
The findings are released as pressure continues to mount on public relations and advertising firms to stop promoting carbon-intensive products and services.
In recent months, the Clean Creatives campaign has rallied a growing number of businesses, young marketers, scientists and celebrities behind its mission to get agencies in the US and UK to drop their clients from fossil fuels. Meanwhile, a separate call for European lawmakers to ban fossil advertising and sponsorship has now garnered 180,000 signatures.
Georgia Whitaker, Greenpeace campaign manager for the European Fossil Free Revolution campaign, said the figures released this morning underscored the urgent need to ban advertising of high-carbon products.
“Advertising is a very powerful tool, this report shows that if we allow the uncontrolled advertising of high-carbon products, big polluters will succeed in driving sales through social media, print and broadcast media channels, and on billboards, which will lead to a net increase in carbon emissions, “she said. “Scientists have issued a code red for humanity, it is now crucial to remove the microphone from a industry that is actively profiting from climate demolition products.”
The report comes as regulators pledge to step up the fight against ‘greenwashing’ in marketing, with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last month announcing plans to launch a major investigation on misleading green claims in the fashion industry.
And just this morning, the UK advertising regulator banned an advert from drinks maker Innocent on the grounds that it falsely claimed buying its smoothies would have a positive environmental impact.
The Advertising Standards Authority said it had received complaints from 26 different viewers, who claimed the advert, shown on TV, Youtube and via on-demand services, implied that drinking smoothies from a disposable plastic bottle was good for the environment.
Ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, the ASA said Innocent had failed to demonstrate that its products had a net positive impact on the environment throughout their life cycle, despite the advertisement in question suggesting that there was “a direct association between choosing Innocent beverages and taking positive action to help the environment”.
“While we recognized that Innocent was taking various actions to reduce the environmental impact of their products, this did not demonstrate that their products had a net positive environmental impact over their entire life cycle,” said said the regulator. “We also noted that their beverage bottles contained non-recycled plastic and that extracting raw materials and further processing these materials to produce the bottle would have a negative impact on the environment.”
Innocent, a subsidiary of Coca-Cola, argued that the ad presented a “purpose-driven message” and a call to action for consumers to join the company in “working towards a planet healthier”, but did not suggest that buying Innocent products themselves would result in a positive impact on the environment.
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