North Somerset Council votes to end ads for high carbon products

North Somerset Council passed a motion on 19th July 2021 to introduce a ‘Low Carbon Advertising Policy’ on the advertising sites it manages. This should see an end to adverts for high carbon industries such as petrol and diesel cars, airlines, airports and fossil fuel companies. North Somerset joins Liverpool and Norwich city councils who have already passed similar motions.

The North Somerset motion mandates the council to create a list of high carbon industries that will be prohibited from using its advertising sites such as bus stops and billboards. Whilst the exact definitions of products is still to be drawn up, a provisional list of high carbon industries cited in the motion include:

  • petrol and diesel car advertising, particularly for the largest and most polluting cars such as Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs)
  • airline advertising for flights
  • fossil fuel companies (such as Shell and BP)

Adfree Cities is working with the Badvertising campaign to support councils wishing to implement progressive and ethical advertising policies – as a first step to reducing and removing harmful advertising in absolute terms.

Badvertising’s Toolkit for Local Policymakers suggests these defintions of high carbon products:

Airlines and airports: all advertising by airports and airlines which might reasonably be deemed to promote more flyingThere are no low carbon options for commercial air travel available currently or for the foreseeable future, so air travel per se should be treated as high carbon.
Fossil fuel companies: We define fossil fuel companies as firms that have over 80% of their investments in coal, oil and gas and / or operate as companies primarily concerned with selling fossil fuels and their derivative petrochemicals. Carbon Underground 200 provides a useful background on issues and methodologies for defining fossil fuel companies.
Cars: exclude all advertising and promotions for petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles and Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV)Advertising for Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) as distinct from PHEV could still be permitted, and in principle hydrogen fuelled vehicles. PHEVs have been shown not to yield meaningful emissions savings over conventional vehicles.

The North Somerset motion proposed by Councillors Bridget Petty, Stuart McQuillan and Ciaran Cronnelly resolves:

“That the Director of Place in liaison with the Executive Member for public transport reviews the scope of the Advertising Concession Agreement[s] which are currently being updated in readiness for an imminent tendering process to investigate the possibility of amending the current set of prohibitions and restrictions to include products that contribute to climate change and air pollution”


“That the Director of Place in liaison with the Executive Member for planning policy be asked to investigate and to the extent possible implements a Low Carbon Advertising Policy as part of the council’s planning policies, to apply to bus stops, billboards and advertising spaces in the area within the jurisdiction of the local planning area”

Published by