Frequently Asked Questions about Fighting Fossil Ads

Advertising that promotes the fossil fuel industry, air travel, cruise travel and fossil fuelled cars is harmful for our health and our planet. So why wait? It is time we make fossil ads history and prohibit fossil advertising.

On this page you will find the answer to most of your questions.

Arguments to ban fossil advertising and sponsoring

Fossil advertising should be prohibited because it worsens the climate crisis and undermines the policy that aims to fight the climate crisis.

Research proofs fossil advertising:

Yes, science supports the need for a fossil ad ban. On this website you can find research papers that support a ban on fossil ads. Below, we will highlight some reports that all call for a ban on the promotion of high carbon products to reach the climate goals.

  • IPCC, 6th assesment, WG3 (2022)
    In its most recent report (6th Assessment Working Group 3), the IPCC mentions regulating fossil advertising as one of the mitigation strategies. This has an effect on CO2-intensive consumption behaviour, according to the IPCC. The IPCC also mentions the normalising effect of advertisements driving CO2-intensive consumption. It can even make people feel that luxury goods are really necessary. The IPCC is also critical about misleading advertising by the fossil fuel industry.
  • UNEP Emission Gap Report (2020)
    The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) – cites regulating advertising as a mechanism for lifestyle change. UNEP links concrete emissions to packages of measures that include banning advertising on air travel and carbon-intensive cars.
  • Cambridge Sustainability Commission on Scaling Behavior Change (2021)
    Scaling behaviour change for a 1.5 degree world’ is the 1st synthesis report on the contribution of behaviour change to meeting the Paris target. The Cambridge Institute focuses on the empirical evidence on levers for social change. Also on advertising restrictions as a lever to accelerate climate action.
  • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (2020)
    The Potsdam Institute cites a ban on fossil product advertising as a measure that contributes to the social tipping point for rapid decarbonisation. The study highlights that climate measures are mutually reinforcing. For example, a ban on fossil advertising reinforces measures aimed at increasing climate knowledge.
  • Quantifying mitigation of consumption options, Diana Ivanoca et al (2020)
    Study the impact of measures to reduce consumption as a mitigation measure against climate change. Bans on flying and cars are part of the package.
  •  Rapporten New Weather Institute (2022) en Purpose Disruptors (2022)
    New Weather Institute and Purpose Disruptors (advertisers in the UK) separately calculated the emissions damage from advertising campaigns for flying and cars, respectively, in the EU and in the UK. All advertisements for air travel and polluting cars cause between 41 to as much as 122 MtCO2eq within the EU.

An advertising ban is a normal tool of the national or local government at the moment when a product causes serious harm. For example, in many places in the world there is an advertising ban for tobacco. This proofs a fossil ad ban is legally viable if the stakes for society are high enough.

A fossil ad ban is in line with the freedom of speech and internal market regulations

Freedom of expression and internal market regulations may be restricted if there is a legitimate purpose, such as health protection, according to several legal experts about several jurisdictions.

  • An almost complete ban on fossil advertisements is proportionate in light of public interests, such as health, environment and democratic processes (Kaupa).
  • Curbing adverts for environmentally-damaging products and lifestyles, such as cars, airlines and fossil fuel companies would be lawful, rational and proportionate. And there is good grounds to do so (Richard Wald KC for the UK)
  • Legislative and legal options for nation-wide restriction of fossil fuel advertising and sponsorships, and how they could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Australia (Marque Lawyers).
  • A fossil ad ban is “perfectly legal” according to EU internal market law, free movement of goods, fundamental human rights and consumer law. Stronger still, the ban pursues positive legal commitments upheld by both the EU and the Netherlands. (Prof Ingo Venzke and Laurens Ankersmit)

See more legal research on fossil ads

There is broad support for a fossil ad ban. Consumers want a tougher approach to greenwashing. Three quarters are in favor of a ban on polluting companies from pretending to be greener. Almost 40% are even in favor of a complete advertising ban for fossil companies. This is evident from a survey among consumers in Europe, Canada, Australia and the US.

Also, a majority of Dutch young people want an end to meat advertising, air travel and the fossil fuel industry, according to an advice report by Unicef.

A comprehensive set of tobacco advertising bans can reduce tobacco consumption. Another study concludes about regulating tobacco ads: “Regulations profoundly impact the moral legitimacy of controversial industries by shaping societal expectations about which practices are deemed morally appropriate or acceptable, and by making the misalignment between an industry’s strategies and collective interests visible and salient.”

The common definition of fossil advertising is: any advertisement or sponsorship by companies selling fossil fuels, vehicles running on fossil fuels, and flights or ferries that run on fossil fuels.

A ban on fossil ads will prohibit advertisements for fossil fuels, as well as air, road and water-borne transportation (other than transport services of general economic interest) powered by fossil fuels; prohibit advertisements from any undertakings active in the market for fossil fuels, in particular by extracting, refining, supplying, distributing or selling
fossil fuels; prohibit sponsorships by undertakings, or using trademarks or commercial names used for fossil fuels.

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Fossil advertising is seen on the streets, in bus shelters, in news media, in social media, on television.
Fossil sponsorships are seen in museums, sportclubs, schools (sponsored lesson material), events, universities.

● Offline: any advertisements in print media, television, billboard, radio, SRI, or academic publications
● Online: any social media ads or branded content on all social or traditional media platforms
● Sport- any sponsorship of sports clubs or events
● Culture- any sponsorship of museums, arts institutions, theatres, music venues, festivals, events or artists
● Education- public universities, schools, or any public educational institution
● Science: any public science festivals or funding for public scientific institutes and educational publications
● Public events- in particular related to climate, health, biodiversity, environment and ecological sustainability.
● Third party media events

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The main actors in producing and spreading fossil advertising are:

  • The fossil fuel industry, the airline, cruise and travel industry, the car industry
  • The communication, advertising and pr industry; who make the marketing strategy and create the ads
  • The organisations who make money by spreading fossil ads to a big audience: publishing houses, broadcasting companies, tech platforms (like Google), advertising exploiters (like JC Decaux), media agencies and all subcontractors.

How to ban fossil ads as citizens, politicians and organisations

There is a growing number of municipalities worldwide that are implementing fossil ad bans. Great that you want to free your municipality from fossil ads!

  • Check out which municipalities already have banned fossil ads
  • Check out one of the toolkits that help you ban fossil ads in your local council
  • For further questions, contact the organisations that are banning fossil ads locally
  • Check out what fossil fuel sponsorships have been cancelled already
  • Check out one of the toolkits that help you set up a campaign to ban fossil fuel sponsorships
  • For more questions, contact the organisations are working on banning fossil sponsorships
  • Check out which health organisations already spoke out about (banning) fossil ads
  • Check out one of the toolkits that help you involve health care workers in your campaign
  • The organisation Clean Creatives has a pledge for agencies in the US, Asia and South Africa not to work for the fossil fuel industry.
  • The collective Fossiel? No Deal are 80+ agencies from the Netherlands that pledge not to work for the fossil fuel industry, the airline industry and fossil car industry.
  • The international movement Creatives For Climate is greening up the ad industry. Members pledge not to work for the fossil fuel industry.
  • Check out which groups are practicing the subtle art of subvertising
  • Check out one of the toolkits to start subvertising

 

We will definately add more, but for starters:

The guide to frontrunners: winning the fight against fossil ads

After the city of Amsterdam became the first city in the world to ban fossil ads, a growing number of local governments around the world are banning fossil ads. You can check out those municipalities on our website!

France is the first country that has some kind of fossil ad ban. In several other countries law proposals have been filed. You can check out the latest on countries banning fossil ads on our website!

All over the world, multiple organisations are fighting fossil ads. Some focus on a new law, others on sponsorships for sports or culture, others on legal changes. And others on advertising agencies. Check them out on our website and enjoy their work!

The organisation Clean Creatives is publishing F-lists of advertising agencies who still choose to collaborate with the fossil fuel industry.

Museums, festivals, events and sportsclubs everywhere in the world are ditching fossil fuel sponsorshops. You can find a list on our website!

The tobacco moment for the fossil fuel industry is closing in! In several countries there are court cases against fossil fuel industries and airlines. Also more and more legal cases at advertising watchdogs are won about misleading advertising and greenwashing.

You can check out the legal cases on our website