Irish campaigners support citizens’ campaign for EU ban on fossil fuel advertising and sponsorship

New analysis of over 3,000 adverts shows how six major fossil fuel companies ‘greenwash’ their brands

More than twenty organisations – including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace – have today launched the first ever Europe-wide campaign calling for a ban on fossil fuel advertising and sponsorships in the EU. The coalition of NGOs has launched the campaign with less than a month to go before the crucial UN climate conference in Glasgow, COP 26 [1].

The European Citizens’ Initiative “Ban Fossil Fuel Advertising and Sponsorships” proposes a ban on any advertisement or sponsorship in the European Union by companies selling fossil fuels, vehicles running on fossil fuels, and flights or ferries that run on fossil fuels [2]. If the campaign gathers one million verified signatures across the EU in support of the proposal, the European Commission is obliged to respond. Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace are calling on the public to show their support by signing their name online at banfossilfuelads.org.

 

Deirdre Duff, Communications Manager with Friends of the Earth Ireland said:

“The power of the fossil fuel industry to delay and obstruct climate action cannot be underestimated. At first coal, gas and oil companies funded outright climate denial. Now they’re pushing false climate solutions – their dodgy net-zero pledges, unproven negative emission technologies and land-grabbing carbon offsetting plans will make the climate crisis worse, not better. 

Ireland has already singled out the fossil fuel industry as morally reprehensible by purging our national investment fund of fossil fuel investments. Now it’s time to remove fossil fuel companies from our airwaves too – just like we’ve done with tobacco companies. We’re encouraging the Irish public to get behind this campaign and sign the “ban fossil fuel ads” petition.”

 

Greenpeace EU climate and energy campaigner, Silvia Pastorelli, said: 

“The companies most responsible for climate breakdown buy ads and sponsorship to present themselves as the solution to the crisis they created, and to influence politicians. Like the tobacco industry, fossil fuel polluters first denied the science and then tried to delay action. A ban on their advertising is a logical step to bring public debate and policy in line with science.”

 

Bans on fossil fuel advertising do have precedent in the EU. In December 2020, the City of Amsterdam banned fossil fuel advertisements from its metro and the city centre. The French ‘climate and resilience’ bill, published in 2021, also includes some first steps towards a ban of fossil fuel advertisement. On 18 October, Stockholm city council will debate a proposed ban on fossil fuel advertising in the city.

 

New research: 63% of fossil fuel companies ads are ‘greenwashing’

Analysis published today (4th October – under embargo until then) by Greenpeace Netherlands found that an average of 63% of fossil fuel companies’ advertisements were greenwashing: misleading consumers by failing to accurately reflect the companies’ business and promoting false solutions such as fossil gas as clean energy alternatives [3].  The research, conducted by journalists at DeSmog, assessed over 3,000 adverts published on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube since the launch of the European Green Deal, from December 2019 to April 2021. The six companies analysed were Shell, Total Energies, Preem, Eni, Repsol and Fortum. Only 16% of the advertisements analysed were explicitly for fossil fuel products, despite the fact that this is the majority business of all six companies.

 

1. The full list of organisations backing the European Citizens’ Initiative campaign is:

 

ActionAid

Adfree Cities

Air Clim

Avaaz

Badvertising

BoMiasto.pl

Ecologistas en Acción

Europe Beyond Coal

Federazione Organismi Cristiani Servizio Internazionale Volontario

Food and Water Action Europe

Friends of the Earth Europe

Fundación Renovables

Global Witness

Greenpeace

New Weather Institute Sweden

Plataforma por un Nuevo Modelo Energético

Résistance à l’Agression Publicitaire

Reclame Fossielvrij

Social Tipping Point Coalitie

Stop Funding Heat

Zero – Associação Sistema Terrestre Sustentável

2.For more information about the European Citizens’ Initiative, “Ban Fossil Fuel Advertising and Sponsorships”, visit www.banfossilfuelads.org. A European Citizens’ Initiative (or ECI) is a petition that is officially recognised by the European Commission, and pre-approved by them. If an ECI reaches one million verified signatures in the timeframe allowed, then the European Commission is legally obliged to respond, and may consider making our demands into European law.

3. The analysis can be viewed here. Please note that it is embargoed until 0.01am on 4th October 2021: https://www.greenpeace.org/static/planet4-eu-unit-stateless/2021/09/6c96d5ce-under-embargo-til-4-october-greenpeace-netherlands-research-words-vs-actions-the-truth-behind-fossil-fuel-advertising.pdf

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