A new local campaign has launched to increase pressure on government bodies and media agencies to remove the advertising of fossil fuels products from public spaces.
The campaign is the work of not-for-profit organisation Comms Declare, which is a group of media and communication companies pushing for the banning of all fossil fuel advertising in Australia.
Although exact numbers are vague, it’s estimated that the major oil and gas companies spend around $150 million on advertising annually in Australia.
The first of the Comms Declare billboards has just appeared in Melbourne’s CBD.
The group claims that fossil fuels are the main driver of global warming and air pollution which contributed to some 8.7 million deaths a year globally — a number higher than the death rate from tobacco, so fossil fuels advertising should be restricted as tobacco ads are.
Comms Declare also has the support of a number of medical bodies including the Australian Healthcare and Hospital Association, the Australasian Epidemiological Association and Doctors for the Environment Australia.
The campaign also includes an open letter signed by 195 healthcare professionals, including surgeons, general practitioners, nurses and professors of public health from Australia’s major universities, to the prime minister and the country’s mayors calling on state and federal governments to ban all fossil fuels advertising.
Belinda Noble, founder of Comms Declare, said: “Australia was a world leader in restricting tobacco advertising for the public good, and we can stop the promotion of high-emission products for the same reason.”
Noble added that the new Albanese government had an opportunity to ban dirty energy ads as “an obvious next step … to acknowledge the significant health impact climate change is already having on our children and community”.
The Comms Declare initiative follows last month’s Cannes awards that was overshadowed by a number of Greenpeace protests during the week-long event declaring “No awards on a dead planet“.
In a number of European countries, regulators have started to introduce restrictions on fossil fuels advertising including in The UK, France and the Netherlands. Curbs are being debated in the United States, Sweden and Canada.
In June last year, some 250,000 people signed a European Citizen Initiative to ban fossil fuel ads and sponsorships in the region.
In April this year, Melbourne’s Yarra City Council became the first Australian council to ban all fossil fuel advertising.
Mayor of Yarra Sophie Wade said at the time: “At this week’s council meeting, Yarra City Council unanimously passed a motion declaring that the Council does not support the advertising of companies involved in the production or supply of fossil fuels on Council property.”
Belinda Noble added: “We applaud Yarra City Council for joining cities and countries around the world to stop the promotion of greenhouse gas pollution as part of its net zero commitment.
”Advertising coal, oil and gas serves no purpose other than to increase demand for the products that are driving climate change and harming our community.
“Fossil fuel advertisements and sponsorships mislead consumers about the environmental attributes of dangerous and toxic products, and delays the shift in social attitudes required to urgently transition to cleaner energy,” Noble said.
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