Friday, December 3

Gasoline Consumer Ads Exceed Our Climate Targets

Black Friday is upon us and once again we are bombarded with ads urging us to buy more. Among them are many ads for cars, specifically those for gasoline cars and light trucks (a category that includes SUVs and pickup trucks).

Light trucks are one of the top two sources of growth in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for road transport in Canada. with an increase in emissions of 156% between 1990 and 2018.

Considering 25 percent of the country’s GHG emissions come from transportation.Canada cannot honestly claim that it is reducing emissions in the sector if it allows gasoline-powered vehicles, especially light trucks, to get high publicity.

Light trucks are everywhere, and the demand for them continues to grow. Beyond the impact of its significant environmental footprint, other negative impacts on road safety, public health, urban space, traffic, household finances, and the economy are significant. By whipping them hard, the auto industry is undermining our finances and our planet.

In fact, advertising has a considerable impact on our buying behavior. And clearly we are having a hard time resisting its effects: Four out of every five new vehicles sold in Canada in 2020 were light trucks.. This is not surprising given that 79 percent of car ads in the Canadian press include light trucks..

An Équiterre study seeking to better understand why light trucks have become so common in Canada shows that nearly half of new car buyers were influenced by some kind of medium. In 2018, the automotive industry accounted for 21 percentt of the total investment in digital advertising, placing it at the top of the spenders list.

Incompatible with Canadian objectives

Canada has committed to reduce GHG emissions by at least 40% by 2030, with the goal that by 2035, 100% of new vehicle sales will be zero-emission vehicles. Therefore, the sale of gasoline vehicles should, logically, decrease by 10% per year between 2025 and 2035.

The mass promotion of light trucks is incompatible with the objectives of our government. The objectives cannot be achieved without a framework to better regulate the advertising of gasoline cars.

From now on, only tangible and collective action can make a real difference in the climate crisis. Clearly, the “goodwill” of the auto industry is not enough. Our government must regulate one of the most polluting economic sectors in the country. And you must do it consistently.

Like the promotion of tobacco products, another health threat, we must reduce the advertising practices of the automotive industry, writes Andréanne Brazeau of @ equiterre. @andreannebraz #FossilFuels #ClimateCrisis

Need for better regulation

There are no regulations on the advertising of gasoline vehicles from an environmental point of view. There is nothing to say that they cannot be advertised in off-road environments and there are no regulations showing the fuel consumption and GHG emissions of vehicles.

As was done with the promotion of tobacco products, another health threat, the advertising practices of the auto industry must also be reduced.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as a Crown corporation, also has a duty to set an example. The ads you run must promote messages consistent with achieving our climate and environmental goals. It is time for CBC to update its advertising policy.

Therefore, we are launching a request calling for a tightening of the federal regulatory framework for advertising on the heaviest and most inefficient gasoline-powered vehicles and light trucks. It is time to stop the influence of this advertising. It is slowing the transition to sustainable mobility and slowing down our collective efforts to fight the climate crisis.

We need to reverse the trend.


Charles Bonhomme, David Suzuki Foundation

Etienne Grandmont, Viable Transport Access

Blaise Rémillard, Montreal Regional Environmental Council

Sandrine Cabana-Degani, Pedestrians-Quebec

Jérôme Laviolette, PhD student in transport engineering, Polytechnique Montréal

Andréanne Brazeau is a mobility analyst in the Collective Choices team at Équiterre.

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