ASA dismisses complaints against DfT climate change ad

LONDON - The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has dismissed more than 50 complaints against a Department for Transport (DfT) TV ad encouraging consumers to drive five miles less a week.

The TV spot, by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, launched in conjunction with a Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) campaign, as part of a government drive to lower the UK's CO2 emissions.

A voiceover states: "Scientists say rising CO2 emissions are causing our climate to change. In the UK, over 40% of these emissions are caused by the things we do as individuals. Car travel is the single biggest contributor to this. But together we can begin to make a difference by driving 5 miles less a week."

Over 50 viewers questioned whether car emissions were the "single biggest contributor" to human-produced CO2 emissions, while two viewers claimed emissions from livestock were greater.

The DfT argued that the ad did not suggest that car use was the greatest contributor to human produced CO2 emissions, but rather single biggest contributor caused by actions taken by individuals.

The ASA agreed that the claims were based on published Greenhouse Gas Inventory Statistics, and also that the ad referred to human contributions to CO2 emissions, rather than livestock, and so concluded that the ad was unlikely to mislead viewers.

Earlier this year, the ASA banned part of a DECC campaign depicting the potential consequences of climate change. The hard-hitting ads, also by AMV BBDO, received more than 900 complaints along 10 separate lines.

While most complaints were not upheld, a press ad showing three men in a floating bathtub amid scenes of flooding, and another playing upon the nursery rhyme ‘Jack and Jill', were deemed likely to mislead the public.