It’s very rare that I am impressed by a UK MP’s ideas or statements on Climate Change, but for once, someone has raised their voice and come up with something sensible. MP Colin Challen, chair of the all-party climate change group has come up with the idea of government health warnings on all car adverts, pointing out that they are damaging to our health and to our climate, and that consumers are being misled by the ‘green’ message now being given out in many ads, suggesting to some extent that they are now good for the environment.
Ok, maybe this is a bit far, but I’m still happy to see someone pointing out - if in a bit more extreme manner - that car manufacturers are getting away with selling cars without highlighting the negative effect they do have on the environment. I’m especially happy as it’s a subject I have brought up before, although my suggestion is slightly less extreme - that all car ads in all formats should display as clearly as possible the CO2 emissions generated by the car in question.
It has got better - most posters and magazine ads do now include CO2 emissions figures (in very small print), but TV ads still blatantly avoid the subject. In fact, I’d love to do a test with a panel of consumers to get them to estimate the actual CO2 emissions of a series of cars based on the message from their ads.
And that’s the point. It’s not clear, and something needs to be done to ensure that we make educated decisions. I don’t think we need great big ‘CARS CAN KILL THE PLANET’ health warnings - this is the ‘THE END IS NIGH’ approach to getting people to reduce CO2 emissions, and it puts out more backs than it encourages people. However, the fact that someone influential is pointing out the absence of any clear message on CO2 emissions in many car ads is a step in the right direction.