The French arm of the World Wildlife Fund is urging the government to clamp down on advertising for high-polluting SUV cars – usually depicted in nature landscapes – which the NGO says are excessively popping up on billboards, in newspapers and on television.
In a study published Wednesday, the WWF warned SUVs were crushing the advertising market, accounting for an average 3 hours and 50 minutes of TV advertising per day in 2019, and 18 pages of print media.
“French consumers are overexposed to SUV advertising and underexposed to advertising for lighter, less emitting car models,” the WWF said.
Of the 4.3 billion euros in advertising spent in France by 11 car brands in 2019, 1.8 billion – or 42 percent – was devoted to the promotion of SUVs, the WWF said.
SUVs – short for sport utility vehicles – are powerful, large-format passenger cars that combine offload features such as raised ground clearance. They have experienced booming demand in Europe, the US and China.
Because of their size, SUVs are more fuel-intensive than smaller cars, with the International Energy Agency warning their popularity could negate the environmental benefits of electric cars.
The WWF report comes as the French parliament debates whether to restrict the promotion of high-polluting products as part of its review of the government’s flagship Climate and Resilience bill.
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“The advertising space should not continue to promote vehicles whose purchase is discouraged by our public policies,” WWF president Isabelle Autissier wrote in an editorial accompanying the report.
“The ads show SUVs driving through beautiful, wild landscapes, however these cars consume a lot of fuel and emit a lot of greenhouse gases, so they aren’t really a gift for nature.”
The WWF has previously warned that, over the past decade, “heavy” and “greedy” SUVs had become the second largest source of growth in French emissions – just behind the aviation sector.