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House of Lords recommends advertising restrictions

The House of Lords has recommended restrictions on "advertising for high carbon and environmentally-damaging products."

House of Lords recommends advertising restrictions
Robbie Gillett: “Such recommendations coming directly from the House of Lords shows precisely how much high-carbon advertising needs regulation.”

A new report from the House of Lords’ Environment and Climate Change Committee has included several new recommendations on the regulation of advertising as related to the products’ environmental impact.

The report, ‘In our hands: behaviour change for climate and environmental goals’, makes a number of recommendations which include the following:

  • improving the prevalence of positive environmental behaviours like using public transport or active travel. This recommendation makes the point that advertising currently runs in the contrary direction with a disproportionate space given to high-carbon products like SUVs.
  • doing more to counter greenwashing, build consumer trust and ensure companies that make products or provide services with lower environmental impact can compete fairly.
  • introducing measures to regulate advertising of high-carbon and environmentally-damaging products. The priorities being to create clear definitions of commonly used environmental terms, to which businesses must adhere in marketing and labelling their products, and the banning of misleading and unsubstantiated environmental claims under consumer law.

The report makes explicit reference to work done by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in their publication of the “Green Claims Code”, the Advertising Standards Agency’s advice that ad regulation needs to do its part in reaching climate goals. It also notes that beyond such organisation, local councils can make a marked difference in the regulation and scrutinisation of the advertising industry.

The recommendations have been welcomed by campaigners who have, for years, been making the case that advertising has a direct impact on the climate and thus need to be better regulated. The group Badvertising have called for “tobacco-style restrictions on advertising of high-carbon and environmentally damaging products” in order to reduce advertising’s climate impact.

Robbie Gillett, campaigner at Badvertising, said: “Such recommendations coming directly from the House of Lords shows precisely how much high-carbon advertising needs regulation. For too long, corporations have downplayed or outright misled consumers on the exact impact of their products and services. Just as we did for tobacco, we need to stop advertising polluting products that are harming our health and our planet and move beyond the culture of hyperconsumerism that advertising promotes.”

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