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European Citizens' Initiative (ECI)

Coalition seeks EU ban on fossil fuel advertising




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An effort to outlaw greenwashing by fossil fuel companies across the European Union launched today, with more than 20 organizations representing millions of Europeans launching a European Citizens’ Initiative to “Ban Fossil Fuel Advertising and Sponsorships”.

The campaign seeks to cement such a ban into European Union legislation [1]. Achieving this, according to the Europe Beyond Coal coalition, would cut off a vital channel that coal barons and other fossil companies use to promote their inadequate efforts on climate action, while a vast majority of their investments still go into fossil fuels.

“Finland’s Fortum pretends it’s green despite opening a new coal plant in Germany last year; RWE shouts about its renewable energy business while destroying German villages like Lützerath to mine coal it cannot burn; and Poland’s state-owned PGE is illegally expanding coal mining in Turów, while targeting Brussels politicians with ads showing fake citizens promoting coal,” said Kathrin Gutmann, Europe Beyond Coal campaign director.

“While coal will be gone in Europe by 2030, these companies are more than willing to waste huge sums of money trying to stop the unstoppable, rather than plan for it and finance a fair energy transition. It is communities, workers and all of us everyday people that end up paying the price for their propaganda.”

Over 60 percent of advertisements from fossil fuel companies are ‘greenwashing’ according to new research [2], that could for instance be used to polish their public profiles, deny their responsibility for the climate crisis, promote false solutions like coal to gas replacements, and delay the phase-out of their fossil businesses.

“The companies most responsible for climate breakdown buy ads and sponsorship to present themselves as the solution to the crisis they created, and to influence politicians,” said Silvia Pastorelli, Greenpeace EU climate and energy campaigner. “Like the tobacco industry, fossil fuel polluters first denied the science and then tried to delay action. A ban on their advertising is a logical step to bring public debate and policy in line with science.”

More information about the European Citizens’ Initiative, “Ban Fossil Fuel Advertising and Sponsorships”, is available here.

  1. A European Citizens’ Initiative (or ECI) is a petition that is officially recognised by the European Commission, and pre-approved by them. If an ECI reaches one million verified signatures in the timeframe allowed, then the European Commission is legally obliged to respond, and may consider incorporating the demand into European law.
  2. Bans on fossil fuel advertising do have precedent in the EU. In December 2020, the City of Amsterdam banned fossil fuel advertisements from its metro and the city centre. The French ‘climate and resilience’ bill, published in 2021, also includes some first steps towards a ban of fossil fuel advertisement. On 18 October, Stockholm city council will debate a proposed ban on fossil fuel advertising in the city.
  3. Participating organisations to this ECI include: ActionAid, Adfree Cities, Air Clim, Avaaz, Badvertising,, Ecologistas en Acción, Europe Beyond Coal, FOCSIV, Food and Water Action Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Fundación Renovables, Global Witness, Greenpeace, New Weather Institute Sweden, Plataforma por un Nuevo Modelo Energético, Reclame Fossielvrij, Social Tipping Point Coalitie, Stop Funding Heat, Transport & Environment, and Zero.
  4. Research by environmental news outlet DeSmog  on behalf of Greenpeace Netherlands found that out of over 3,000 Shell, Total Energies, Preem, Eni, Repsol and Fortum adverts published on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube since the launch of the European Green Deal, from December 2019 to April 2021, only 16 percent were explicitly for fossil fuel products, despite the fact that this is the majority business of all six companies.
  5. This spring, PGE launched a PR campaign in Brussels, calling for a “Green Deal, not a Grim Deal,” featuring a stock photo of a child.
  6. One local resident spoke out about the faked campaign, and the real impact of Turow on his community.
  7. Less than a week after Germany's 'climate election', people from the village of Lützerath in Western Germany staged a sit-in to defend their homes from destruction by coal company RWE last Friday (1 October). The expansion of the mine would cause Germany to fail on its Paris Agreement commitments. Greta Thunberg and German climate activist Luisa Neubauer visited Lützerath the day before the election, ramming a sign into the ground in front of the village that read: "Defend Lützerath, defend 1.5". Images here.
  8. Europe Beyond Coal is an alliance of civil society groups working to catalyse the closures of coal mines and power plants, prevent the building of any new coal projects and hasten the just transition to clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Our groups are devoting their time, energy and resources to this independent campaign to make Europe coal free by 2030 or sooner.

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