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27 October, 2023

In recent years, we’ve seen the introduction of more and more climate-inspired controls over how businesses advertise their products and services. From France putting climate labels on car ads to the EU banning ambiguous climate claims, regulators in many places are getting more involved in what businesses can and can’t put on a billboard.  

The folks at badvertising, a campaign from the charity Possible, would like to go further. Arguing that the UK advertisers’ self-regulatory Advertising Standards Authority is not going far enough or fast enough to police greenwashing, badvertising is campaigning to restrict advertisements for high-carbon goods and services altogether. By encouraging individuals to ask their local council to restrict advertising for emissions-intensive sectors, oppose the installation of new billboards, and lodge complaints with regulators, the badvertisers are trying to ensure that car manufacturers, airlines, and meat and dairy producers, among other carbon-intensive industries, are not able to advertise in public spaces.   

Advertising is a powerful tool in shaping consumer behaviour, one we believe has a big role to play in driving climate action. While we don’t necessarily feel that bans are the answer – we prefer emphasising, and mandating, transparency on the climate impacts of products and services – it is important to have campaigns like this giving us (and businesses) cause to think.  

We’re glad badvertising are calling attention to this (and we love their name), but we hope they’ll forgive us for saying that we’d like to see a world in which they don’t exist. Ultimately, we don’t want to police which businesses can and can’t advertise on the basis of climate impact, because we want all businesses to be compatible with a net zero economy (something we’re working hard to help happen).  

By Louise Podmore

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