Badverts – The Law is on our side

When it comes to serious action on climate change, one reason councils may drag their heels is the fear of lengthy legal battles from those with a vested interest in the status quo.

If you work at Manchester City Council and you’ve been tasked with how best to review (dismiss) the call by Climate Emergency Manchester to ban high-carbon advertising, we’ve got some bad news.

Adfree Cities have shared new legal advice which “gives local authorities the green light to end high-carbon advertising on the ad sites they control.” This new legal opinion provides assurance to councils that they are within their rights to introduce Low Carbon Advertising Policies in line with anti-pollution goals; and that curbing adverts for environmentally-damaging products and lifestyles, such as cars, airlines and fossil fuel companies would be both rational and proportionate.

Written by Richard Wald KC of 39 Essex Chambers, London, the legal opinion is the latest step in the growing movement to end advertising from major polluters. The review sought to assess any legal issues potentially arising from introducing advertising policies that align with councils’ climate targets, and addressed two main points: any legal risks attached to a policy to end high-carbon advertising; and the design of a lawful policy.

The conclusion?

It is within local authorities’ power and discretion to exclude adverts and sponsorships for high-carbon products and services from sites they control. The review also concludes that there is a strong legislative background to do so, given that the need to reach net zero carbon emissions is part of the UK’s primary legislation, and that the UK’s latest carbon budget explicitly recognises the need to reduce demand for high-carbon activities.”

Read the full report and legal advice on the Adfree Cities website 

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