Tide is turning

C40 cities network hosts webinar ‘What can cities do about high-carbon advertising?’

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C40, a global network of nearly 100 mayors of the world’s leading cities on climate action, hosted a webinar on high-carbon advertising. City officials, policy makers and researchers from all over the world joined one of the two timezone sessions. Femke Sleegers joined in from Reclame Fossielvrij, next to spokepeople from the Global Climate and Health Alliance, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Adfree Cities UK, Badvertising, Possible and the Haarlem City Council. 

Monika Milewska from C40 introduced the webinar with some staggering numbers. It turns out that 70% of global emissions are represented by cities, that 70% of C40 cities already report effects of climate change and that 70% of global emissions could be eliminated by consumption by 2050, according to the IPCC. Cities are thus the perfect frontrunners for a fossil ad ban, as cities such as Amsterdam, Sydney, Stockholm and many others have already shown. 

‘High carbon products are unhealthy commodities’

Using fossil fuels can lead to serious health risks, said Jessica Beagley from the Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA). These risks are related to climate change (like heatwaves, other extreme weather events, but also infectious diseases) and also related to production, transportation and combustion of fossil fuels (like oil spills and air pollution). Fossil fuels can lead to health care costs of up to 3.3% of global GDP (in 2018). 

Slide from Jessica Beagley, GCHA.

Ads spread greenwashing and consumerism 

Oil companies try to mask these unhealty effects by using greenwashing ads with cute kids and green energy. And advertising works: while most people who you ask whether ads work on them say no, UK ad agency Purpose Disruptors calculated that 32% of the average carbon footprint of UK residents was due to ads causing extra consumption. Leo Murray from Badvertising sees how oil companies use ads to protect their social licence, how there is a current lack of regulation and how ads create demand. Their research shows that SUV ads can make people 250% more likely to own a SUV than no vehicle at all. 

Slide from Leo Murray, Badvertising

Growing international and local support for fossil ad ban

That’s why the WHO, IPCC and also the UK House of Lords call on restricting high-carbon ads. The Potsdam Institute mentions a fossil ad ban as a social tipping point measure. Femke Sleegers from Reclame Fossielvrij very clearly pointed out why we need to ban fossil ads: it reduces emissions, it changes social norms and it reduces fossil lobby power. Did you know fossil ads are placed more around important politician decision moments? A full review of all relevant research to ban fossil ads can be found on our new website, www.worldwithoutfossilads.org/research/

Slide from Femke Sleegers, Reclame Fossielvrij

Freedom of speech

One of the more than 25 cities banning fossil ads is Haarlem, a city that banned fossil and meat ads with a motion initiated by Ziggy Klazes (Groenlinks). After the decision became world news, creative vegan ads began to appear in Haarlem, but opponents of the ban also placed ads with criminalized hamburgers. Opponents often claim that banning fossil ads breaches freedom of speech, however Dutch human rights experts from NJCM also call for a national ban on fossil ads, just because of human rights. 

Is your city next?

Inspired to take action in your municipality? Check out www.worldwithoutfossilads.org for worldwide examples of local councils banning fossil ads, toolkits including model motions and local ordinance proposals and all research you need to convince your city council. 

Find here the full slides and webinar recording (pw: !ARJ51Gc) of session A (with Jessica Beagley (GCHA), Leo Murray (Badvertising/Possible), Femke Sleegers (Reclame Fossielvrij), Ziggy Klazes (GL Haarlem city council)).

Find here the full slides and webinar recording (pw: bLC8w^=X) of session B (with Charlotte Gage & Veronica Wignall (Adfree Cities), Leo Muray (Badvertising/Possible), Leah Temper (CAPE), Ziggy Klazes (GL Haarlem City Council)).

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