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Amsterdam Launches Ban to Keep Fossil Ads Off the Streets

The municipal government in Amsterdam, capital of the country where colossal fossil Royal Dutch Shell has its headquarters, is seeking to wean the Dutch off fossil fuels by banning many advertisements for the pollutants.

The ban isn’t total—yet, Climate News Network reports. But the prohibition of what are described as “fossil fuel products”, including air travel as well as fossil-fueled cars, means the adverts will no longer be seen in Amsterdam’s subway stations.

The city says it’s the first in the world determined to keep fossil fuel advertising off its streets. Never before has a city decided to ban advertising solely on the basis of climate change, it insists.

The agreement about advertisements in its metro stations is the municipality’s first step towards making advertising everywhere in Amsterdam fossil-free. The Dutch capital is still investigating a wider ban on advertising, and on marketing festivals by fossil fuel companies such as ExxonMobil and Shell.

Ban Fossil Advertising (Reclame Fossielvrij) is a Dutch citizens’ group working for a nationwide ban on advertising by the fossil fuel industry and on adverts for polluting transport. “The decision to ban fossil fuel advertising from subway stations comes at a crucial moment in the fight against climate change,” said coordinator Femke Sleegers.

“We don’t have any time to waste in working toward the goals in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Adverts that portray fossil fuels as normal worsen climate disruption and have no place in a city—or a country—that has complied with Paris.”

The decision by Amsterdam’s city council to start banning fossil fuel adverts followed pressure by Ban Fossil Advertising and 51 other local groups. The city’s public transport company, GVB, had already decided to sharpen up its advertising policy to keep greenwashing advertisements (when polluters falsely present themselves as environmentally responsible) out of its vehicles, after a call by Extinction Rebellion Amsterdam.

Ban Fossil Advertising is working for a nationwide law to cover the fossil fuel industry, modelled on the Dutch advertising ban on the tobacco industry, which is regarded by campaigners as an indispensable step in the fight against smoking. It is seen not only as a step which changed social norms, but as one that removed temptation. Today’s campaigners say an identical approach is needed towards fossil fuels.

Three more cities in the Netherlands—Utrecht, Nijmegen, and The Hague, where Shell is headquartered—say they are open to a ban on fossil fuel ads. Similar moves are under way in a number of other countries in Europe, North America and Australia, some at the national level and some in individual cities, with media backing in several cases.

In Canada, a Change.org petition promotes a citizens’ initiative for a fossil fuel advertisement-free country, urging Parliament “to demand accountability from the fossil industry and legislate a ‘tobacco law’ for oil, gas, and petrochemical companies; a ‘fossil law’”.

This would ban adverts for Big Oil, air travel, and cars with fossil fuel engines, with fossil fuel money used for marketing redirected into “an unbranded fund that helps the transition.” A similar initiative is under way in France.

In the United States, the city of New York is suing three major oil companies and the top industry trade group, arguing the companies are misrepresenting themselves by selling fuels as “cleaner” and advertising themselves as leaders in fighting climate change.

In the UK the Badvertising campaign is seeking to stop adverts from fuelling the climate emergency, and the environmental lawyers ClientEarth are urging policy-makers to ban all fossil fuel company ads unless they come with tobacco-style health warnings about the risks of global heating to people and the planet. − Climate News Network

2 Comments (Open | Close)

2 Comments To "Amsterdam Launches Ban to Keep Fossil Ads Off the Streets"

#1 Comment By Catherine Kingston On May 12, 2021 @ 2:24 PM

Amsterdam is not the capital of The Netherlands; it’s The Hague.

#2 Comment By Mitchell Beer On May 12, 2021 @ 5:59 PM

Thanks, Catherine. I wondered about that, and checked it when the story came through our editing and review process! Turns out we’re both right:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_of_the_Netherlands