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Worldwide initiatives to ban fossil fuel advertisements

The louder the call for climate policy, the more fossil fuel industry advertises.

Their advertisements keep us invested in a fossil fuel world. They’re meant to prevent regulation to their industry. That’s why people have recently started fighting fossil fuel ads. All over the world. We keep this page updated.

Do you know of an initiative that’s missing? Please let us know!

Laws that ban fossil fuel ads

FR – French parliament has adopted a law that bans ads for fossil fuel energy, like petrol and diesel. The ad ban is expected to be enforced in the summer of 2022. In 2028 an ad ban for the most polluting cars will follow.

This is a shadow of the original proposal by the citizen’s assembly for law that banned advertising for fossil fueled cars, air travel and fossil fuel industry.

Campaigns for a law that bans fossil fuel ads

EU – European Citizen’s Initiative by Greenpeace, and many others for a tobacco style law that bans ads for big oil, air travel and cars with fossil fuel engines.

NL – Campaign for a tobacco style law that bans ads for big oil, air travel and cars with fossil fuel engines. (Bi-lingual website, switch languages for English)

Canada – Campaign by Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment for a tobacco style law that bans ads and sponsorships by fossil fuel industry and gaspowered vehicles.

UK – ClientEarth pleas for a nationwide ban on greenwashing in the UK, when fossil fuel companies refuse to put a warning on their ads.

Canada – Campaign for a tobacco style law that bans ads for big oil, air travel and cars with fossil fuel engines. And they ask to re-direct fossil fuel money used for marketing into an unbranded fund that helps the transition.

UK – Campaign to ban SUV-ads

FR – A citizen’s assembly proposal to ban billboards that advertise for high carbon products (ie SUVs).

Parliamentary initiatives for a law that bans fossil fuel ads

EU – Parliamentarian David Cormand proposed a draft proposition to ban ads for fossil fuel products and services. His proposal was rejected.

NL – Six political parties (ChristenUnie, GroenLinks, PvdA, Partij voor de Dieren, BIJ1 and NIDA) adopted a ban on fossil fuel ads in their election program (March 2021). One more may follow.

B – A proposal for a law that bans ads for SUVs by Ecoli-Groen & cdH

City council initiatives on a ban on fossil fuel ads​

UK – North Somerset will ban all high carbon advertisements. They will do so by listing companies and products that are no longer allowed to advertise in the town

USA – New York City files consumer protection lawsuit against Exxon, Shell  BP and American Petroleum Institute to ban false advertising and deceptive trade practices in the city.

NL – City of Amsterdam. On december 17th the majority of the city council in Amsterdam has decided it wants a ban on all fossil fuel ads and fossil fuel (kids) festivals in public space.  On May 3rd Amsterdam took the first step and banned ads for cheap tickets and polluting cars from the subwaystations.

FI – In the city council of Helsinki a motion was presented to ban all fossil fuel advertisements.

UK – In Norwich a motion passed to ban advertisements that harm the public health and the environment.

UK – In Liverpool a motion passed to ban fossil fuel advertisements (aviation, suvs and fossil fuel industry).

UK – Adblock Leeds launched a campaign in Leeds to follow the Amsterdam example

UK – Adblock Bristol launched a petition in Bristol to follow the Amsterdam example

SW – City of Stockholm. Vice Mayor for climate and environment Katarina Luhr pleas for an Amsterdam style ban of fossil fuel ads in the city

SW – City of Göteborg. Three parties plea for an Amsterdam style ban of fossil fuel ads in the city

CA – City of Regina, Saskatchewan. Councillor Daniel LeBlanc proposed a motion to ban fossil fuel ads. He encountered such fierce opposition, including threats, that he withdrew support.

NL – City of The Hague. Motion by many parties (a.o. Partij voor de Dieren, GroenLinks, D66, SP) which calls upon upon the MRDH (Metropolitan Region Rotterdam The Hague: partnership between 23 municipalities) to ban fossil ads from bus and tram shelters. MRDH refuses.

NL – City of Leiden. Motion by Partij voor de Dieren (Party for the Animals), GroenLinks (GreenLeft) and SP (Socialist Party) passed to talk to operators of advertising space in bus shelters to ban fossil ads.

NL – City of Enschede. Motion by GroenLinks (GreenLeft) passed that instructs the alderman to examine how advertising and marketing events for fossil products and services can be banned in the public space, with priority for the fossil fuel industry, air travel and polluting cars

NL – City of Haarlem. Motion by GroenLinks (GreenLeft)  passed which asks alderman to talk to operators of advertising space in public space to ban ads for fossil fuel products, air travel, cars on fossil fuels and meat from factory farming. 

NL – City of Utrecht. Party for the Animals wrote an initiative proposal based on legal advise to ban fossil ads from the public space

NL – City of Nijmegen. GroenLinks and Party for the Animals want a ban of fossil fuel ads and have asked alderman questions. 

NL – City of Zwolle. GroenLinks wants a ban of fossil fuel ads. Questions asked.

NL – City of Waalre. Local climate group started a petition to ban fossil fuel ads

Media that ban fossil fuel ads

SW – The newspaper Dagens Nyheter (2nd newspaper of Sweden) has restricted fossil fuel ads.

SW – The newspaper Dagens ETC bans all fossil fuel advertisements: big oil, air travel, fossil fueled cars. 

UK – The Guardian bans all advertisements for big oil.

UK – British Medical Journal: all ads and scientific papers paid by fossil fuel industry

Calls for media to drop fossil fuel ads

Multiple climate organizations call for publishers of German newspapers to stop fossil fuel advertising. Tagenszeitung is already seriously considering to quit fossil fuel ads.

BE – Politico should drop its branded content for Shell

NL – Chief editor of Trouw wants his newspaper to ban ads from the fossil fuel industry and for air travel. He writes this in an editorial in which he reflects on the talk he and his publisher had with Reclame Fossielvrij. The publisher has promised to discuss it with the board of DPG Media.

Agencies that refuse to make fossil fuel ads

Australia – Commucation professionals declare not to work for fossil fuel industry: CommsDeclare

USA – Advertisement agencies refuse to work for fossil fuel industry: Clean Creatives

UK – Advertisement agencies take responsibility for the effects of their work: The Great Reset.

Public Transport that bans fossil fuel ads

USA – Campaigners from Sierra Club ask King County (Washington State) wants to ban fossil fuel ads from public transport

NL – Amsterdam public transport agency GVB: Shell greenwashing, maybe more

(Court) cases against fossil fuel ads

USA – A House subcommittee is demanding that executives of
Exxon Mobil Corp., Shell, Chevron and other major oil and gas companies
testify before Congress about the industry’s decades-long effort to wage
disinformation campaigns around climate change.

USA – The state of Massachusetts sued Exxon for deceptive advertising to Massachusetts consumers and for misleading Massachusetts investors about the risks to Exxon’s business posed by fossil fuel-driven climate change—including
systemic financial risk.

USA – State Attorney of Vermont files a lawsuit against oil companies, including Exxon and Shell, for false advertising and deceptive trade practices.

USA – New York City files consumer protection lawsuit against Exxon, Shell  BP and American Petroleum Institute for false advertising and deceptive trade practices.

NL – Nine law students file a 95-page complaint about Shell’s advertising for CO2-compensation at the Reclame Code Commissie (Dutch Advertising Authority).

USA – Unprecedented complaint files at US Federal Trade Commission against misleading advertisements by Chevron. Filed by Global Witness, Greenpeace USA and Earthworks.

NL – Milieudefensie vs Shell. Fossil Fuel advertisements are presented as evidence for hampering climate policy.

USA – More than 20 cities in the US, ao Washington DC, sue Shell, Exxon, BP and Chevron for misleading their citizens. Also with their advertisements. Make the Future is part of the evidence.

USA – Beyond Pesticides sues Exxon for misleading claims in advertisements about green investments.

IT – Oil major ENI slapped with €5m fine for greenwashing palm oil diesel

NGO reports on how advertising harms climate action

Badvertising – Smoking out the Climate – lessons from the advertising ban on tobacco for climate emergency

Greenpeace France: Pour Une Loi Evin Climat

DeSmog (commissioned by Greenpeace NL): Words vs actions

Scientific research about advertising and climate change​

All fossil fuel ads are misleading, because they serve to normalise an extremely harmful product and industry. That’s why a total ban, like the ban on tobacco is the best regulatory solution. (Kaupa, Journal for European Consumer and Market Law,  February 2021)

A ban on fossil fuel advertising is identified as social tipping point by the Potsdam Institute. (Otto et al, February 2020)

By letting Shell contribute to exhibitions in the NEMO museum, an apparently neutral platform was created where Shell could legitimize its business story. (Van der Plaat, June 2020)

Childmarketing by fossil fuel industry as a way of obstructing change. (Eaton & Day, July 2019)

Rhetoric and frame analysis of ExxonMobil’s climate change communications
Computational assessment of how ExxonMobil has used language to subtly yet systematically frame public discourse about climate change. The study shows that ExxonMobil uses rhetoric mimicking the tobacco industry to downplay the reality and seriousness of climate change, to present fossil fuel dominance as reasonable and inevitable, and to shift responsibility for climate change away from itself and onto consumers.
(Supran, Oreskes, May 2021)

‘The role of public relations firms in climate change politics’: this paper provides an exploratory overview of the extent and nature of involvement of PR firms in climate political action by organizations in five sectors: Coal/Steel/Rail, Oil & Gas, Utilities, Renewable Energy, and the Environmental Movement. The analysis shows that the engagement of public relations firms by organizations in all of these sectors is widespread.  
 (Brulle, Werthman, published in Climatic Change, November 2021, pdf of entire paper)

Advertising by fossil fuel industry is meant to strengthen lobby / public affairs and influence climate policy according to fossil fuel interests. (Brulle, Aronczyk & Carmichael, December 2019) 

Research reveals the power inequities surrounding climate discourse by suggesting that wealthy industry trade groups employ a discursive practice of distraction and appropriation of U.S cultural values and mores, essentially shifting public dialogue from climate change and potential environmental policies to how these policies would hurt the industries and adversely affect the average U.S. citizen. (B. Miller Gaither & T. Kenn Gaither, July 2016)

ExxonMobil’s use of a didactic, greenwashed frame stifles criticism and discourages examination of ideologies of consumption by exploiting the ethos of the scientist and highlighting technological solutions to problems that are deeply tied to a culture of consumerism. The definition of green energy is controlled by those with the power to generate persuasive public messages about the sources and production of energy. (Plec & Pettenger, April 2012)