A website showcasing all municipalities, museums and campaign groups worldwide taking action against fossil ads was launched today. The last few years have seen a sharp increase in legal cases, campaigns and direct action taken towards fossil ads. And with success: cities like Amsterdam, Sydney and Stockholm are banning fossil ads. ‘There is no way of stopping this snowball. The question is not whether fossil ads will be banned, but when.’
The website www.worldwithoutfossilads.org aims to inspire municipalities, policy makers and campaign groups to ban advertising for high carbon products, like air travel and cars and the fossil fuel industry. It features a growing number of international, national and local successes, tactics, toolkits and scientific papers that help ban (fossil) ads in municipalities, sports clubs, newspapers or countries. The new website also serves as an up to date database for press. The website is initiated by Dutch campaign group Reclame Fossielvrij (Fossil Free Advertising).
Fossil ads threaten climate targets
A legal ban on fossil advertising and sponsoring is a logical step to phase out fossil fuels, to reduce emissions, to change social norms and to weaken lobby-efforts by the fossil fuel sectors. ‘Seeing the urgency, we can’t advertise climate chaos any further’, said Leonhard Rabensteiner, spokesperson for Werbefrei (Ad Free) Austria. His group lobbies for a fossil ad ban in Graz. Like many municipalities worldwide, the city of Graz has ambitious climate targets, however lacks concrete policy proposals to reach these goals.
Municipalities as frontrunners
After Amsterdam became the first city to ban fossil ads worldwide in 2020, many municipalities in the Netherlands and abroad have followed, for example in Sydney and Stockholm. Major successes have been celebrated in the UK, France and the US. Local initiatives are popping up in Denmark, South Africa and Italy. ‘A fossil ad ban can’t be missing in any serious attempt to tackle the climate crisis. I believe that greenwashing and promoting high carbon products will be banned soon’, says Veronica Wignall from Adfree Cities UK.
News outlets second
The Swedish newspaper Dagens ETC was the first media outlet in the world to ban fossil ads in 2019. The Guardian, VOX Media and Dagens Nyheter have restricted fossil ads since. Anna Jonsson, co-founder of New Weather Sweden, sees that ‘the momentum to ban fossil ads is growing fast, also in our neighboring Nordic countries.’ European groups, like hers, have collected over 350.000 signatures for an European Citizen’s Initiative to ban fossil ads.
Health care sector pleads for a fossil ad ban
Internationally, the World Health Organisation, the Global Climate and Health Alliance and the Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty have voiced support for a fossil ad ban. Many city initiatives that ban fossil ads and campaign groups draw the parallel between fossil ads and ads for smoking. For example in Australia, more than 200 health professionals call for a national fossil ad ban and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) is inspired by ‘the physician-led campaign against tobacco advertising.’ Also Reclame Fossielvrij stresses the need for a tobacco law for fossil ads together with a growing number of health professionals.
IPCC: ‘regulate advertising’
‘The fossil fuel industries shouldn’t be allowed anymore to promote their products, damaging our health with dangerous air pollution, intensifying runaway climate change and misleading consumers via their ads.’ said Charlotte Braat, spokesperson for the new website and campaigner with Reclame Fossielvrij. ‘As can be read in the research section on our website, the IPCC found that 40 – 70% of emissions reduction for 2050 can be achieved through choices we make in our daily lives. Governments can influence those choices with policies that tackle overconsumption. For the IPCC, this includes the regulation of advertising, high carbon advertising in particular.’
Cultural institutions and creative action
Multiple cultural institutions and festivals throughout the world were convinced by campaign groups to cut sponsorship deals with fossil companies. Campaigners in five different countries filed a complaint against Fifa’s Qatar World Cup ‘carbon neutral’ claim, a first of its kind. The anti-ad activist collective Subvertisers International has also repeatedly organized international creative actions in replacing (fossil) ads by mockups. And creatives in the ad industry are also speaking up more and more, pledging not to work for fossil fuel companies anymore via initiatives like Clean Creatives.
Press contact Werbefrei Austria: Leonhard Rabensteiner, firstname.lastname@example.org
Press contact Adfree Cities UK: Veronica Wignall, email@example.com
Press contact New Weather Sweden: Anna Jonsson, firstname.lastname@example.org