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Activists urge for EU ban on advertising of fossil fuels

Netherlands- A coalition of more than 20 environmental and climate organizations launched Monday a campaign calling on the European Union to ban fossil fuel sponsorship and advertising across its territory. The campaign is similar in spirit to tobacco advertising bans.

More than 80 Greenpeace activists obstructed the entry to Shell’s oil refinery at Rotterdam in the Netherlands to bring attention to the European Citizens’ Initiative which calls for an advertising ban.

The summit comes less than a year before the United Nations climate conference, COP26, which will be held in Glasgow. The 12-day summit is designed to achieve more ambitious commitments in order to limit global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius. With a goal to keep it at 1.5 degrees Celsius, the summit will be held on 12 December.

Activists used floating cubes that were emblazoned in fossil fuel-linked ads to block the entrance. A 15-meter (yards) long oil tank was also used by activists to attach posters advertising Shell’s logo.

“I grew to read signs warning about the dangers of smoking, but I have never seen similar warnings placed in fuel stations or on petrol tanks. It’s terrifying that my favorite sports or museums are sponsored airlines and car companies,” Chajamerk, an activist aboard the Greenpeace ship, stated in a statement issued by the group. “Fossil-fuel adverts belong at a museum. They should not be sponsored.”

Shell claims that billions are being invested in “lower-carbon energy” We must rapidly expand these new businesses to alter the mix of energy Shell offers. It means that our customers can be informed via social media or advertising what lower-carbon options we offer, or are in the process of developing, so they have the opportunity to switch when it suits them.

Police entered to disperse the protest. They boarded Beluga II and took activists into custody. More activists were held at the oil-tank. Greenpeace claimed 17 activists had been detained. Rotterdam police were unable to confirm the exact number of arrests.

Shell stated it respected peaceful protests, “if done safely.” But that is not what the situation is right now. The company stated that demonstrators are unlawfully on company property and that strict safety protocols apply.

Popular calls for an end to advertising of fossil fuels are growing. Amsterdam had earlier in the year banned advertising for “fossil product” (gas-powered cars or cheap airline tickets) from its metro system. The municipality described the move as the first in a larger effort to remove such ads off the streets of Amsterdam.

A law prohibiting ads promoting fossil fuels in the EU must be passed by 1,000,000 verified signatures within a year. If it succeeds the EU executive Commission must examine the request, but isn’t obliged to take any action.

The environmental coalition stated that the legislation would raise public awareness about technologies and products that cause climate change.

Greenpeace’s Dutch affiliate published a report accusing major energy firms of large-scale “greenwashing” in advertising campaigns. The report referred to “both fossil fuel companies’ advertisements promoting genuine climate-friendly initiatives, and their advertisements that promote misinformation as ‘green’.”

The study looked at more than 3000 ads posted on social networks by six companies in the energy sector and found that 63% of these were greenwashing.

The report stated, “We can confidently affirm that all of the companies in this dataset are greenwashing. Their advertisements do not accurately portray their business activities.