Can the council already stop environmentally controversial high carbon ads?

Spoiler alert: Yes, we think Manchester City Council already can stop high carbon ads displayed on council assets.

You may think we’re mistaken, but as CEM has looked around to see what MCC has already done around restrictions or control of advertising in the city we stumbled upon a report to the Ethical Procurement Sub Group from 21 February 2019. This summarises the council’s position to ensure that ‘inappropriate content’ is not displayed through the advertising estate.

The context of this report is that it was produced as the council was preparing to go through a procurement process for 99 of those controversial energy hungry electronic ad boards that blight and block the pavements of the city centre.

Section 3 of the report lists the council’s guidelines and contractual obligations, which we think gets quite interesting listing what is not allowed…

Now this report was written before a climate emergency was declared by the council later that July nearly 4 years ago… oh how time flies! So we can’t expect MCC to have been as focussed on tackling the climate crisis as they are now, especially in an area like procurement where they make quite a song and dance about leading the way on sustainability. It’s high time to update this now outdated policy, which also predates the current leader and exec member. 

We’ve now been through a record-breaking hottest ever June, meaning eight of the twelve calendar months now have an average temperature record set since 2006 in a series which dates back to 1884. You can read more about this from the UK Met Office here if you’ve not been sufficiently disturbed by what we’re witnessing.

Considering how much of the carbon budget the city has already consumed (far far more than it should), it’s a no-brainer that adverts promoting high carbon consumption should not be on council-owned screens.  If anything, it undermines any efforts to create culture to lower residents emissions and all the money invested in those efforts – it must be in the millions by now. 

The council has plenty of discretion in clarifying what they consider “environmentally controversial” so if they’re really serious about that climate emergency declaration, then this is something within their power to change. Whilst there may be some revenue lost, the same argument applies to everything else on their list of restrictions, not to mention the thousands, if not millions, the council has invested over the years on trying to reduce the city’s emissions.

If you see adverts promoting high carbon consumption on these electronic ad boards around the city with the MCC logo like the one below, make sure you take a picture and tag MCC in and demand them to take it down. Feel free to tag ourselves in as well. 

Let them know this environmentally controversial practice has to stop now.

credit: jack fifield


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