The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is to release new guidance to support a crack down on businesses making unsubstantiated environmental claims.
With the scale of the climate challenge becoming ever clearer, and governments setting new and ambitious targets, The ASA has recognised the role advertising and ad regulation must play in working towards agreed climate goals.
The advertising regulator has set out key principles to make sure ads do not mislead consumers about the environment and are socially responsible when considering environmental issues. It will also be launching inquiries to analyse environmental claims made by energy, waste, and transport sectors and will commission research in the autumn into consumer understanding of “carbon neutral” and “net zero” claims, and research into public perceptions of hybrid claims in the electric vehicle market.
In September, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published the Green Claims Code to help businesses understand their obligations under consumer protection law. It contains key principles, which require that all green claims must be truthful, accurate, clear, unambiguous, and substantiated. Further, the CMA prohibits claims that omit or hide important information and requires advertisers to consider the whole life cycle of their products and services when making environmental claims.
Releasing its statement on the regulation of environmental claims, the ASA said it is apparent that the issues encountered when making environmental claims can be ‘complex’ and there is significant scope for businesses to make mistakes and mislead, which can be detrimental to consumers and harm to the planet.
Miles Lockwood ASA director of complaints and investigations said: “The ASA is going to be shining a greater regulatory spotlight in the coming years on social responsibility and misleadingness issues when it comes to environmental claims in ads.
“We know that there needs to be systemic, wide-scale change for the UK to meet the Government’s climate targets. From our track record of strongly regulating environmental claims to today’s announcement, we believe that our work will continue to positively influence the fight against climate change,” he continued.