Advertising watchdog to shine ‘regulatory spotlight' on environmental claims

The UK’s advertising watchdog is to “shine a greater regulatory spotlight” on environmental claims made in ads after finding there is “significant scope” for firms to make mistakes.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is to release new guidance setting out key principles to make sure ads do not mislead about the environment and are socially responsible when considering environmental issues.

It is to launch enquiries into specific areas of concern, starting with energy, heating and transport, to analyse the green claims made by firms with a view to setting stricter rules.

It will also 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.

The ASA said it recognised that “as the scale of the challenge to avoid catastrophic climate change becomes ever clearer, advertising and, by extension, ad regulation needs to play its part in working towards agreed climate goals”.

It said: “Our review builds on the decades of regulation that the ASA has already delivered on ads that make environmental claims.

“It has been carried out to ensure that our regulation remains effective in the context of a society which is increasingly concerned about the impact human behaviours are having on our planet.”

The ASA said it was “apparent that the issues encountered when making claims that touch on the environment can be complex”.

“There is significant scope for businesses to make mistakes, and to mislead, when making environmental claims, which can lead to consumer detriment and harm to the planet.”

ASA director of complaints and investigations Miles Lockwood 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 in order for the UK to meet the Government’s climate targets.

“The ASA is just one small part of that, but 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.”

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