Supporting the European Campaign to Ban Aviation Advertising

The eagle eyed amongst you may have seen some interesting eye candy pop across the UK the past week. Predominantly – but not limited to – posters protesting the use of fossil fuels and calling for the banning of fossil fuel advertising. If you have been lucky enough to have seen one of the beauties, then you would have witnessed one of the many fruits of a call out from the Subvertisers International (S.I.) network.

CALLING ALL SUBVERTISERS AND ARTISTS

With Brandalism by their side, the S.I. put a call out for activists and artists all over Europe to take action against aviation advertising on the week of the 10th of September. (“Aviation advertising” means more than just ads for airlines and airports, it includes the advertising agencies that promote them and the profiteering energy giants that fuel them too).

London, Bristol, Manchester, Sheffield, Brighton, Paris, Barcelona, Brussels, Lisbon and Rome were some of the key cities where billboards, bus stops and public transport advertising spaces were hacked with over 500 satirical artworks from renowned subvertisers and artists from all over the globe.

One piece from artist Darren Cullen satirises the enhanced carbon footprint of Business Class flights, with the text “We’re turning Business Class green with the world’s first on-board golf course”. 

Artist Michelle Tylicki’s piece depicts an aeroplane flying over wildfires, with the text “Fly Responsibly”. 

Other designs by artists Street Market Subvertiser, Soofiya, and Matt Bonner call attention to ‘greenwashing’ in which airlines and airports make sustainability claims that campaigners say conceal the actual impact aviation has on the planet.

BAN FOSSIL FUEL ADVERTISING

The main purpose of this campaign is to raise awareness and get people signing the ECI campaign to ban fossil fuel advertising; ECI stands for European Citizen Initiative and it’s basically a petition on steroids. Should the ECI reach 1,000,0000 votes, the European Commission would be legally obliged to – within 12 months – discuss and consider, passing a new law to reflect the will of its citizens, which in this case would be banning all fossil fuel advertising and sponsorships. At the time of writing, it’s standing is at 310,926 so there is everything to fight for!

> So if you are an EU citizen and you are over 16 and you don’t need to hear anymore, click this link, and register your opposition now! <

If, however, you would like to hear more about why all this fuss is being made about the Aviation Industry and Fossil Fuel Advertising and/or you are a U.K. citizen then please read on…

WHY TARGET THE AVIATION SECTOR?

Thankfully, it doesn’t need to be argued anymore as to whether or not the climate crisis is real. Everyone knows it’s here and that the doomsday clock is counting down the minutes. But whilst some of industries have started taking steps – some might say tentative baby steps – towards reducing their contribution to this global crisis, the aviation industry has been swinging its arms and stomping its feet, pretending like it’s diligently marching in the direction of progress when it fact it’s slowly trailing behind with the energy giants, waiting for the right time to give them the wink before they all make a run for it with their bags full of cash… (Note that the aviation industry has missed each and every sustainability target in the last 20 years bar one).

Which shouldn’t be a surprise as flying is carbon-intensive and in its current form cannot exist without fossil fuels. Not to mention the fact that, in the aviation sector, fossil fuels are subsidised by fuel taxes which is what helps it keep its costs so low, which drives greater sales. Moreover these cheap flights help some people override that flying malaise because “we work hard and we deserve that holiday” and “it can’t be THAT bad for the environment if it’s THAT cheap, right?”.

For those whom that first statement rings true, please realise this: flying is a luxury. Even though the number of low cost flights grows year on year, and the aviation sector has made cheap flights a lot more accessible in the Global North, it’s only between 5-10% of the world’s population that flies on any given year and less than 20% of the world has ever set foot on a plane. Furthermore, only 5 nationalities account for 1/3 of the passengers on international routes (The U.K. is number one with 126.2 million passengers which accounts for 8.6% of all passengers)(source).

Moreover, the aviation sector currently  accounts for about 2% of global greenhouse emissions (the energy sector of which they are a part of accounts for roughly 73%) which might seem quite low but without a viable alternative to fossil fuels its contribution to global emissions are projected to increase by 300% by 2050.

And don’t be fooled by the greenwashing ads, the future of aviation is far from looking green and sustainable. Yes, progress has been made with biofuels and electrification, but these innovations can only support flights of up to 1,500 km which accounts for approximately 20% of all global flights

The scientists have had enough with adverts too. Earlier on in 2022, 450 scientists rallied together and called for advertising agencies and PR firms to drop their fossil clients, citing that  ads and sponsorships were one of the main climate action blockers. The United Nations’ body for assessing the science related to climate change, the IPCC, concurs:

“For the first time, the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report stated that corporations have attempted to derail climate mitigation by targeted lobbying, doubt-inducing media strategies and through corporate advertising and brand building  to deflect corporate responsibility to individual.”

SO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

EU citizens – Remember the issue here is advertising. The campaign isn’t about grounding all planes – although do you remember how beautiful and still the sky was during the pandemic? – or banning the use of all fossil fuels (sigh – what a beautiful dream though). No, at this stage this is simply about stripping fossil fuel companies and the industries they sponsor of their ability to lie, influence and coerce the public and politicians with their unwanted morally bankrupt propaganda. It’s been done for cigarettes, it can be done for planes. So if you are an EU citizen who’s over 16 and down for the cause, click this link and register your ECI vote.

And if you’re still not convinced, click the same link and enjoy some further reading on the evils of fossil fuel advertising that should hopefully change your mind…

UK citizens – thank you for making it this far! NOW GO SHARE THIS BLOG WITH YOUR EUROPEAN FRIENDS SO THEY CAN SIGN THE ECI TO BAN FOSSIL FUEL ADVERTISING! And if that doesn’t scratch the itch left by the aviation and fossil fuel companies and you want to take things further, join, follow or get in touch with your local Adblock Group, who are campaigning local MPs and fighting the good fight to rid our streets of all ads. Period. And if you don’t have one near you, why not start your own?

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