Advertisements for large polluting cars such as SUVs should face an immediate ban according to a new campaign called “Badvertising,” which says the government should stop car advertisements for sports utility vehicles in their tracks in the same fashion it prohibited smoking ads.
In contrast, modern SUVs are the cleanest in history, with many now running on batteries, according to one car industry representative. However, a leading academic believes sales of big polluting cars should be banned as they will breach the country’s climate targets. The UK has set its sights on reducing net carbon emissions to zero by 2050, which will take a considerable effort as simply switching gas and electricity suppliers to a renewable option won’t be enough.
A government spokesperson said: "We are developing an ambitious transport decarbonisation plan in order to reach our goal of net zero by 2050. We have also provided consumers with widely-advertised incentives and information to help inform their choices when buying a vehicle." Many customers are already conscious of the car insurance group their next car will be in before making the purchase.
A shift in consumer behaviour has occurred, as SUVs now make up more than 4-in-10 new cars sold in the country. Unfortunately, sales of new electric vehicles only account for less than two in a hundred at this moment in time.
The New Weather Institute, a green think tank, and climate charity Possible, state that this big push towards larger cars is fuelled by aggressive advertising. Climate goals across the world are under threat due to rapidly-increasing sales of larger and more polluting SUVs, the two organisations fear.
The authors of the report highlight that electric engines will not provide the necessary solutions, as these will still pollute the air through particles rubbing off brakes and tyres, and use up carbon-emitting resources to produce their heavy batteries.
They also say that large SUVs can be a nuisance, especially in urban areas. Statistics from the report found that 150,000 new cars on the road are too big for a standard UK street parking space. Furthermore, local authorities up and down the country are already trying to work out how they will create the much-needed additional space on the roads for cyclists and walkers. Both of these groups will undoubtedly want safety standards to be a top priority.
Cars with an average emission of more than 160g CO2/km, and those exceeding 4.8m in length should not be allowed to be advertised, according to the authors.
Andrew Simms, one author, said: "We ended tobacco advertising when we understood the threat from smoking to public health. Now that we know the human health and climate damage done by car pollution, it’s time to stop adverts making the problem worse.
"There’s adverts, and then there’s badverts, promoting the biggest, worst emitting SUVs is like up-selling pollution, and we need to stop."
Meanwhile, Mike Hawes, from the Society of Manufacturers and Traders, said that: "SUVs are an increasingly popular choice. To single out a particular body type is to ignore the huge advances in emissions and powertrain technology made with every new model.
"Today’s vehicles of all types are the cleanest in history, with average CO2 emissions from dual purpose cars being more than 43% lower than they were 20 years ago."