UN Secretary-General Urges Countries to Ban Fossil Fuel Advertising

Jul 2nd '24

In a speech on World Environment Day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a ban on fossil fuel advertising, and called on the advertising and PR companies who assist them to drop their clients, referring to them as “enablers to planetary destruction.


The speech, titled “A Moment of Truth,” called for four main urgent action items: (1) slashing emissions; (2) protecting people and nature from climate extremes; (3) boosting climate finance; and (4) clamping down on the fossil fuel industry.


After addressing each the first three items in turn, Guterres turned to the final item: clamping down on the fossil fuel industry, and more specifically, on their communication tactics. The speech emphasized concerns about the fossil fuel industry’s advertising, stating, “billions of dollars have been thrown at distorting the truth, deceiving the public, and sowing doubt,” and accusing many in the fossil fuel industry of greenwashing.


In looking forward, he urged “every country to ban advertising from fossil fuel companies,” noting that many governments or prohibit advertising for products that harm human health, and stating that some are doing the same with fossil fuels.


But his concerns did not end with the fossil fuel companies themselves. Guterres specifically turned his attention to the advertising companies, PR companies, news media, and tech companies, saying that they have “aided and abetted”  the fossil fuel industry and “fuel[ed] the madness” (even throwing in a Mad Men reference).


Guterres’s call to action asked advertising and PR companies to “stop taking on new fossil fuel clients…and set out plans to drop your existing ones” and asked news media and tech companies to stop taking fossil fuel advertising.


Reposted: Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz.


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