Is Fossil Fuel Industry Advertising Misleading?

In his most recent article, Clemens Kaupa, problematizes the advertising of fossil fuels by pointing out the lack of self-regulation that it has regarding the environment.

Fuel factory and machinery

It seems that there is very little that is done from the political and legal actions in this regard for the fossil fuel industries. Photo: Pixabay

LatinAmerican Post | Vanesa López Romero

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Leer en español: ¿La publicidad de la industria de combustibles fósiles es engañosa?

The fossil fuel industry has been in the eyes of experts and environmentalists for years , but it seems that there is very little that is done from political and legal actions in this regard. According to the 2020 Emission Gaps Report , the bulk of total GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions are fossil carbon dioxide emissions produced by the use of fossil fuels, meaning that, this industry is the one that contributes the most to CO2 emissions, specifically representing 65% of these .

With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the outlook did not improve. In fact, the momentum that had been growing as a result of social movements and NGOs and the Paris Agreement was reduced to the extent that the pandemic meant a delay and losses in the global economy , causing governments and industries to return to the look at these types of resources that are very little, or even not at all, friendly to the environment to overcome the economic crisis. Thus, the response of governments and their policies to the pandemic have been a disadvantage for the fight against climate change, but an advantage for the fossil fuel industry.

Given this, the answers have not been long in coming. Just over a year ago The Guardian announced that it would no longer accept fossil fuel advertising in its publications . Also, an article, recently published in the Journal of European Consumer and Market Law called "Smoke gets in your eyes: misleading fossil fuel advertisement in the climate crisis.",  analyze this situation. The author is Clemens Kaupa, an expert in European law and professor of this at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam . In his publication, Kaupa focuses on demonstrating why the advertising of the fossil fuel industry is misleading insofar as it shows it as something acceptable and normal when, in fact, it is one of the most harmful to the environment and, consequently, for human existence. Use the Netherlands and the United Kingdom as cases.

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The author warns about the need to implement laws that regulate the way in which the industry is advertised, just as the tobacco industry was done at the time , by requiring that measures be implemented in which it realizes the dangers of tobacco consumption for the human body.

Kaupa starts from the need to comply with the Paris Agreements, where the objective is to reduce GHG emissions by 2030 by 45% compared to 2010 . According to him, the advertisements incite an increase in the demand for fossil fuels, leading to infrastructure investments that imply a long-term dependence on them. On the other hand, “fossil fuel advertising is undermining the Paris Agreement goal in several ways", assures the expert in his article.

The author denounces that advertising regulatory bodies in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom let the fossil fuel industry get away with allowing it to not be honest with the climatic consequences for which it is responsible from its advertising. "While science and politics agree that fossil fuels should be phased out as soon as possible, the fossil fuel companies are free to promote their destructive products and do so by misleading claims about climate and environment," Kaupa assures.

For the expert, the solution lies in the total ban on harmful advertising of the fossil fuel industry, concluding that "the important thing is to realize that any advertisement for a harmful product is misleading because it normalizes.