Imperial College report for the CCC says regulations are needed, on marketing and advertising of high-CO2 flights and holidays

A report, by Dr Richard Carmichael of Imperial College, London, was commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), to look at behaviour change, public engagement and the UK Net-Zero target. It made a number of recommendations, one on advertising of flights. It says:  “Advertising and marketing of holiday destinations and airlines also stimulate demand for flying and help set norms and aspirations about flying. Advertising and packaging for alcohol and tobacco has long been tightly controlled in view of their health risks, and gambling marketing must warn about irresponsible betting. More responsible flying could also be encouraged by new regulations for the marketing and promotion of flights and holiday destinations by requiring that carbon footprints of flights are stated in the advertising material. This could raise awareness and begin to change the norm of unproblematic unlimited flying.” Recommendation:  “Encourage more responsible flying by mandating that all marketing of flights show emissions information expressed in terms that are meaningful to consumers (e.g., as proportion of an average household’s annual emissions now and under Net Zero).”


The Imperial College report is at


The endless advertising of holidays and cheap flights is hugely responsible for increasing the number of flights people take, and the impression that flying a lot – taking many holidays and short breaks per year, is normal.  And desirable.

Nobody has done much yet to tackle this hugely damaging activity.  This recommendation to the government’s climate advisers, is very welcome – and very timely.

The advertising industry is doing the planetary climate no favours, in continuing to shamelessly continue to promote activities, and products, with huge carbon and environmental footprints.

See earlier:


Should the advertising industry be doing more to tackle climate change?

Leaders from brands, agencies and Extinction Rebellion explain why the climate crisis demands a step change in approach from the industry.

Nicola Kemp  Managing Editor, BITE

In an era in which attention is often only ever partial, puncturing the collective consumer inertia with a complex message is no easy feat. Yet it is a challenge which Extinction Rebellion have risen to.

The peaceful mass protests orchestrated by Extinction Rebellion have been nothing short of transformational, catapulting the crisis to the top of the media agenda. While a firm line from business leaders including former Unilever CEO Paul Polman and the governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney has underlined the responsibility of business to make tangible changes.

The scale of the climate crisis might make it easy for brands and businesses to believe themselves inept at making an impact. Yet according to the Carbon Majors Report only 100 companies are responsible for 71% of the world’s carbon emissions.

Polman issued a stark warning in The Guardian that “we are about to commit the biggest intergenerational crime in the history of mankind”. Noting that if business fails to address issues of inequality and climate change, a lot more people are going to be dissatisfied, feel not included or left behind. A state of play which means, according to Polman, business leaders must step up and move outside of their comfort zone to take personal risks.

Finding this willpower isn’t always easy. For the advertising industry, reaching the tipping point when it comes to acting on the climate emergency often comes second place to the urgency of hitting the next quarter’s targets. Yet there are signs that overlooking the important in pursuit of the urgent is no longer a long-term business strategy.

Business leaders must increasingly look beyond short-term profitability to address the pressing need to reduce emissions. For an industry based upon the success of its people, the increasing propensity of those people to speak out, boycott and opt-out of working for brands which don’t reflect their own personal values means that maintaining the status quo is no longer an option for ad agencies seeking to build a creative competitive advantage.

With this in mind we asked a selection of industry leaders to have their say on how the industry can address the climate crisis:

You don’t have to be on the wrong side of history. This is an industry capable of quickly shifting global public opinion and behaviour.

William Skeaping, Extinction Rebellion

WILLIAM SKEAPING  – Activist –  Extinction Rebellion

Forget 11 years to save the planet; the latest science suggests we have less than 100 months. Meanwhile advertising continues to drive the high carbon lifestyles and hyper-consumption that is killing us. “Never was so much destroyed by so few for so little. Never did so much need saving by so many so fast.

You don’t have to be on the wrong side of history. This is an industry capable of quickly shifting global public opinion and behaviour. You have an opportunity to lead where governments have failed; to use your skills to share a new message.

Tell the truth about the climate & ecological emergency, across campaigns on billboards and on screens. Speak to your brands; let them know their coveted Gen Z audiences will be gone if they don’t act now. Help us vision this urgent change as a positive opportunity!

Collaborate as an industry: refuse to work for toxic brands; drop them together. Support climate strikes. Send staff on secondment to Extinction Rebellion and join them on the streets in October. Demand that tall US CEO who just flew in takes this deadly seriously.

Front-load spectacularly, if not for the planet and the billions in the global South currently fighting for survival, then do it for yourself because there won’t be any pop-up street food, holibobs or human rights when the crops fail.


Imagine if that billion-dollar persuasion machine was promoting quality of life rather than quantity of stuff.

John Sauven, Greenpeace UK

JOHN SAUVEN – Executive Director  – Greenpeace UK

The advertising industry’s responsibility for what they promote, both good and bad, is an endlessly fascinating question. But in a time of climate emergency, more important than assigning credit and blame is looking at opportunities for change. We have the technical solutions, but the political will is lacking, and weak-willed politicians blame a fickle public whose commitment to decarbonisation may not survive a bit of real-world inconvenience.

But we have the technology to change that too. The ad industry has a budget of around $700bn a year, mainly to spend on promoting unsustainable consumption. Imagine if that billion-dollar persuasion machine was promoting quality of life rather than quantity of stuff.

How could companies like McDonalds use its marketing spend to promote a plant-based diet rather than a meat-based diet? And when it comes to greenwash, could the ad industry refuse to participate in the dirty business of selling the oil industry? BP spends most of its capital expenditure on hunting for more oil and gas. It spends most of its marketing budget promoting its ‘green’ credentials. If everybody withdrew their support, as artists, performers and some advertising agencies have done, they would eventually be forced to match their green advertising slogans with real green investment.

ANDY LAST  –  Co-Founder & CEO – MullenLowe salt

Should we all be doing more to tackle climate change? Yes of course. So why would the advertising industry be any different? The key question, for us as individuals, companies, governments, international organisations, is what can we best do? What are our obligations and opportunities? Framed this way, the questions for the advertising industry become what are our obligations to tackle climate change i.e. how might we have contributed to climate change and how do we stop doing so, and what are our opportunities i.e. where can we make a positive contribution to the issue?

What can we stop doing? Taking work from clients who aren’t actively reducing their own contributions to climate change; earning money from high carbon clients, the sort of companies from whom the investment community is increasingly divesting; promoting unnecessary and over-consumption.

What can we start doing? Use our two unique platforms of influence to promote positive action. We are, or should be, trusted advisors to business. We should be the ones advising them that climate change is an existential threat to their business and that we can help them find new ways to make their business sustainable in the new reality.

And we could also aspire to be the trusted guardians of people. We have our hands on the levers of behaviour change. We spend every day thinking of ways to change people’s behaviours, to prefer that washing powder, to shop in this store, to drive that car. These skills are the ones needed more than ever by the world to halt the human causes of climate change.

Morally neutral is no longer acceptable, to the talent who want to work with us, the businesses who need our best advice and the regulators who govern us. So yes, it’s in the advertising industry’s interests to be doing more to tackle climate change.


and there are a lot more comments at


See also

Advertising World, Why Are We Not Embedding Climate Change Discussions Into Our Boardrooms and Campaigns?

Because, honestly, a lot of these issues fall on the shoulders of big brands

By Deb Morrison|

July 23, 2019

Every year, our University of Oregon ad program brings 100-plus creatives, strategists, managers and producers to New York for Creative Week. It’s a remarkable front row seat to trends of the industry. While visiting agencies, production houses and awards shows, we get a snapshot of industry trends and professional realities that few get the chance to experience.

This year was no different. We heard about the decrease of AOR and the move in-house for many brands. We saw the increased need for diversity and the reality that some places talk about that need but do not act upon it. We witnessed the continued rise of small, entrepreneurial agencies that move quickly to do work of merit.

But what we didn’t hear concerns me more than implications of these more obvious trends. What we didn’t hear was anything about climate responsibility, the most serious issue of our time.

Policymakers point to climate issues at the core of food scarcity, national security crises, health concerns, social justice inequities, ecosystem collapse, loss of homes and land and extreme weather events. Climate scientists show data that prove we citizens of the world have a decade to slow carbon emissions and put the brakes on global warming. We can do this by engaging humanity in resilience and adaptation.

The advertising industry can’t hide from the fact that we played a role in this climate crisis.

Let me admit my own struggle about having 100 students fly across the country, knowing the amount of carbon output involved. We weigh the career opportunities of the trip, purchase carbon offsets, talk about New York’s impressive public transportation way of life. Though individual output pales in comparison to large scale corporate emissions, we still know everyone plays a role in climate adaptation.

Which—returning to the reality that the industry ignores climate issues—is the problem. Except for a few smart and engaged folks, this important issue is not at the forefront of concerns driving business and creative decisions in the advertising profession.

No agency we visited offered even a sigh in the area of climate discussion. There were no Creative Week rallying moments, no inspirational talks. Awards shows did nothing to rally the troops.

Last September, Advertising Week and Climate Week in New York were back-to-back in some random matchup of the calendar gods. There was no overlap. No discussions or bridges about what brands and creative people might do.

Our reality as a profession is this: the great creative revolution of the ‘60s, the development of strategy through planning in the ‘80s and the onslaught of technology into the 2000s all helped to build consumerism. The advertising industry can’t hide from the fact that we played a role in this climate crisis.

A recent study by the Climate Accountability Institute shows that 100 companies have been the source of 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. Those companies include fossil fuel corporations that support transportation, manufacturing and distribution of products. The network of consumerism.

And so it begs the question: What matters?

We as a profession of idea makers, producers, strategists and educators must create a movement to address climate in an urgent fashion.

We as individuals need to find our place in this movement. We need to understand climate science and embrace the work of those who do it. We need to guide brands and clients to messages and actions that show bravery. We need to think of climate urgency as an ethical and moral responsibility, not an opportunity for pro bono work. We need to build energy within our systems—process, leadership, production, education—and embed climate responsibility into each. We need to talk and vote and rally. We need to do those actions that matter.

The brilliant strategy and beautiful craft made to engage consumers to buy cars and lifestyle are desperately needed to inform, engage and develop action about climate issues. Admittedly, this isn’t easy. Changing systems and mindset takes dedication beyond an obligation

…. and it continues