Adverts for SUVs must be banned immediately if the UK is to meet its climate target.
That’s the call from thinktank the New Weather Institute which, together with climate change charity Possible, has launched a campaign entitled ‘Badvertising’.
They say that adverts for large cars, as well as air travel and fossil fuels, are especially bad for the environment because they promote harmful high-carbon consumer habits.
A campaign report says sales of bigger and more polluting cars are increasing quickly in the UK and around the world, which risk putting vital climate goals out of reach.
It adds that SUVs now comprise more than 40 per cent of new cars sold in the UK, with the ‘size creep’ meaning more than 150,000 new cars that are too big for a standard parking space were sold here in 2019. Around the world, meanwhile, there are now 200m SUVs – a 35m rise since 2010.
The campaigners blame the trend on the corporate marketing strategies of big car brands.
The UK is supposed to be reaching emissions of net zero by 2050, with post-Brexit plans by the government taking their lead from an EU strategy, which commits manufacturers to bringing about a 37.5 per cent CO2/km cut in new cars by 2030.
New Weather Institute co-director Andrew Simms said: ‘We ended tobacco advertising when we understood the threat from smoking to public health. Now that we know the human health and climate damage done by car pollution, it’s time to stop adverts making the problem worse.
‘In a pandemic-prone world, people need clean air and more space on town and city streets.
‘There are adverts, and then there are “badverts”. Promoting the biggest, worst-emitting SUVs is like upselling pollution, and we need to stop. In a climate emergency, when we need to make the places where we live more people-friendly, SUVs are in the way of progress.’
Robbie Gillett, campaigner at Possible, added: ‘Whilst millions of us are trying to reduce our carbon footprints to tackle the climate crisis, we have a multi-billion-pound car and advertising industry aggressively marketing highly polluting vehicles – many of which are literally too big for UK streets.
‘Their misleading ads promise us freedom and escape – but the reality of urban road conditions is grinding traffic jams, toxic air pollution and spiralling carbon emissions from road transport that will trash our climate goals.’
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