Thursday, June 19, 2008

Alliance Wins Legal Challenge: Car Billboard Ads to Show Climate Impact

Car adverts on billboards and in magazines will now be emblazoned with the car’s climate impacts, after the Government yesterday agreed to change its advertising guidelines in response to the threat of legal proceedings by the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s.

The fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of vehicle will now have to be prominently displayed, arming consumers with the information they need to choose a greener vehicle – and one that needs to be filled up with fuel less often.

The Department for Transport admitted that it had been wrongly interpreting an EU Directive on car advertising, which says that fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions information must be prominently provided in all promotional literature. The Government has until now exempted ‘primarily graphical’ adverts from the law with the effect that most billboard adverts did not include information about the car’s carbon dioxide emissions.

The announcement came in response to a legal letter to the Department for Transport from Friends of the Earth’s Rights & Justice Centre acting for the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s. We wrote to the DfT in March to point out that the UK wasn’t abiding with EU law and warned the Government that they would issue Judicial Review proceedings if the guidance was not changed.

From now on, it won’t be enough to woo consumers with a sleek and sexy image of a car in billboard ads – car advertisers will need to give real and readable facts about the car’s fuel economy and environmental impact. With rising fuel costs and a growing awareness about climate change, this information is crucially important for people to make greener and cheaper choices of vehicle.

In order to cut emissions from cars, we need both strong regulation on advertising and also strong regulation that forces car manufacturers to make more efficient cars. Today’s change in the advertising rules will help encourage car-makers to build more efficient vehicles, something they have so far been very slow to do.

Phil Michaels, Head of Legal at Friends of the Earth said:
“Until now allowed the UK was getting away with flouting EU legislation on car advertising – but our legal action has closed the loophole.

“Consumers have a right to meaningful information about how much carbon dioxide a car emits and how much fuel it guzzles, so they can choose to buy a car that will be greener and cheaper to run. We will be watching carefully to make sure that the law is now properly enforced.”

See the cars and CO2 campaign website here: