SUVs latest product to face ad ban under think-tank proposal

Government should take same measures as it did when banning ads for cigarettes, New Weather Institute says.

SUVs: now account for more than four in 10 new cars sold in UK
SUVs: now account for more than four in 10 new cars sold in UK

A think tank is calling for a ban on all ads for large cars because of their impact on the environment.

The New Weather Institute said the government should take the same measures as it did when banning advertising for cigarettes.

Research commissioned by the group found that SUVs (sports utility vehicles) now make up more than four in 10 new cars sold in the UK and that the trend to "ever larger, more fuel-hungry vehicles is being driven by the corporate marketing strategies of big car brands".

It added that the "rapidly increasing sales" of SUVs is "putting vital climate goals out of reach".

Andrew Simms, co-director of the New Weather Institute, said: "We ended tobacco advertising when we understood the threat from smoking to public health.

"Now that we know the human health and climate damage done by car pollution, it's time to stop adverts making the problem worse. In a pandemic-prone world, people need clean air and more space on town and city streets.

"There are adverts, and then there are badverts. Promoting the biggest, worst-emitting SUVs is like upselling pollution, and we need to stop. In a climate emergency, when we need to make the places where we live more people friendly, SUVs are in the way of progress."

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "We are developing an ambitious transport decarbonisation plan in order to reach our goal of net zero by 2050.

"We have also provided consumers with widely advertised incentives and information to help inform their choices when buying a vehicle and make an environmentally friendly decision."

The government's incentives include a plug-in car grant of £3,000 towards the cost of a zero-emission vehicle, low tax rates and grants for installing charging points. It has also been consulting to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans, including hybrids, by 2035.

Last week, the government announced plans for severe new restrictions on the advertising of foods high in fat, sugar or salt. And last month, a cross-party group of MPs called for a complete ban on gambling advertising.

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