The Competition and Markets Authority has addressed the finding that “40% of green claims made by companies are misleading”.
They have issued the “green claims code”. This states the 6 principles which must be upheld:
- Claims must be truthful and accurate
- Claims must be clear and unambiguous
- Claims must not omit or conceal important relevant information
- Any claims comparisons must be fair and meaningful
- Any claims must consider the full life cycle of the product or service
- Claims must be substantiated
Advertising Standards Authority
The Advertising Standards Authority also intends to clamp down as it tries to sort out the role of advertisers in facing up to the facts on climate change. They will concentrate on clarifying the jargon and in particular, notes that it is vital that members of the public are made aware of the terms “carbon neutral” and “net zero”.
The impact of these initiatives
These two initiatives have put pressure on marketing agencies to refuse work which leads to them being criticised for “being on the wrong side”, by working against the Cop 26 climate conference, which referred to the phasing out of fossil fuels.
As with all things, it will take commercial pressures to produce real and sustainable changes. At present, there are three main pressures being exerted:
- The first pressure is that young people have been well educated on climate change and see the best way of protecting themselves is to promote green energy. Therefore, they wish to disassociate themselves from the oil and gas industry, which they consider to be against renewables. Instead, they are seeking alternative careers. (This includes advertising and marketing agencies that work for the “older” industries.)
- The second pressure is the fact that the public are becoming increasingly tech-savvy. This means that the advertising and marketing agencies can no longer hide their client base from the public.
- The third pressure is regulation. For example, a local government in Amsterdam has banned all ads promoting the use of fossil fuels in the city centre and the subway system. It is reminiscent of the tobacco advertising ban in Formula One racing, which people originally thought would make racing non-viable. However, given time, the industry can react to such changes.
The impact of regulatory and commercial pressures
It seems likely that these three commercial pressures, the “Green Claims Code”, from the Competition and Markets Authority and the action by Advertising Standards agencies will begin to work.
This means that the oil and gas companies know where they stand and will make an invaluable transition to green energy, so that the use of fossil fuels will be reduced more quickly. They should be part of the solution to the problem.
That will be good for us all!