20 August 2022
Sydney Australia: City of Sydney Council will decide on Monday 22 August whether to ban fossil fuel advertising on its properties – including one of the largest outdoor advertising networks in the world and marquee events such as New Year’s Eve.
It follows an open letter from more than 200 health professionals and organisations, asking for such bans because of the devastating health and climate effects of burning coal, oil and gas.
Studies have found that air pollution from burning fossil fuels claims between 2,616 and 5,700 lives in Australia every year – more than road accidents.
Sydney’s air pollution is regularly above recommended levels and city residents face numerous threats from global warming including more intense heat waves, droughts, less drinkable water and sea level rise.
Deputy Lord Mayor Jess Scully said the City of Sydney declared a climate emergency in 2019 and said she was proud to support a campaign that would see a ban on fossil fuel advertising.
“The declaration showed the world that as cities, we need to step up and be accountable for our climate,” the Deputy Lord Mayor said.
“The burning of fossil fuels is impacting air quality and climate, taking an estimated 8.7 million lives prematurely each year. Fossil fuels are the primary cause of climate change which is impacting the City and Greater Sydney through floods and bushfires.
“I’m proud to say that City operations have been carbon neutral since 2007 (the first government in Australia) and we met our 70 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 2021, an impressive nine years ahead of schedule.
“Sydney has led the way in addressing the climate change emergency in Australia: by encouraging cycling through separated cycleways; by investing in solar and wind energy to power our city; by encouraging the use of public transport; by setting a good example ourselves.
“ I am proud to be leading a motion that would see a blanket ban on fossil fuels advertising. The Motion asks Council to advocate for the State and Federal governments to restrict the advertising of fossil fuels similarly to the federal ban on tobacco advertising in 1992.”
Initiated by Comms Declare, a coalition for positive climate action from the communication, creative and advertising sector, the Fossil Ad Ban campaign aims to achieve tobacco-style bans on ads and sponsorships for fossil fuels at local, state and federal levels. The campaign highlights the hypocrisy of the fossil fuel industry being allowed to market itself unrestricted across airways, billboards and digital platforms despite the proven negative health impacts – when the tobacco, gambling, food and alcohol categories cannot for the same reason.
The campaign is supported by leading health organisations including the Australian Healthcare and Hospital Association, Australasian Epidemiological Association, Australian Federation of Medical Women, Medical Scientists Association of Victoria, Doctors for the Environment Australia and Climate & Health Alliance.
Comms Declare Founder, Belinda Noble said “Australia was a world leader in stopping tobacco advertising and sponsorships and now we are poised to become leaders in curtailing the promotion of toxic, high emissions fossil fuels. These promotions increase demand for damaging products, and create misinformation and greenwashing that is delaying climate action.
“The community has a right to decide what is promoted in our public places and we are grateful for leaders who prioritise our health and planet.”
Tobacco ban campaigner, author and Emeritus Professor from Sydney School of Public Health Simon Chapman highlighted that “Tobacco advertising is banned in most nations because smoking kills 2 in every 3 of its long term users: 8 million people a year worldwide. But this number is chicken-feed when we consider the existential threat to generations to come of unabated climate change this century caused by frequent extreme weather events, crop failure, conflict caused by population displacement and more. How can we continue to allow the rampant marketing of fossil fuel emitting energy sources to continue when we know what the impact will be and what is at stake?”
Climate Action Health Alliance CEO Roland Sapsford commented, “Fossil fuels are hazardous to human health. From mining and refining through to burning, fossil fuels harm our climate and release toxic pollutants into our air, soil and waterways. We restrict alcohol and tobacco advertising and sponsorship for health reasons. As leading health professionals have said, we need to bring the fossil fuel industry in line with other restricted products. Allowing fossil corporations free rein to promote their harmful products is the last thing people need on the journey to a healthier future.”
ENT Surgeon and founder of Vote Earth Now, Professor Rob Eisenberg said “Our laws are meant to protect the health and wellbeing of Australians. Tobacco advertising is banned because it damages lives and hurts our communities but one of the biggest threats Australians are facing this century is climate change. As this recent election has shown, voters across Australia want to see climate action and this is a clear way forward for governments at all levels to enact change.”
For more details and to support the Fossil Ad Ban campaign visit fossiladban.org