Jun 6, 2024 - Energy & Environment

UN leader denounces fossil fuel advertising

Photo of UN Secretary-General António Guterres speaking on climate change at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres delivers a special address on climate action in New York yesterday. Photo: Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called out advertising agencies, governments and media organizations for allowing the fossil fuel industry to "shamelessly greenwash" and "delay climate action."

Why it matters: The UN leader's words, delivered in a major address on World Environment Day, were the highest-profile endorsement yet of a movement simmering among some environmental activists and people in the ad industry. They have sought to separate major advertising firms from their fossil fuel clients.

Zoom in: Guterres went further than simply calling for ad agencies to stop taking new fossil fuel companies as new clients. He also pushed governments to ban fossil fuel ads in ways that tobacco companies are treated.

  • "Many governments restrict or prohibit advertising for products that harm human health — like tobacco," Guterres said. "I urge every country to ban advertising from fossil fuel companies."
  • In sweeping remarks warning how close the world is to exceeding Paris climate benchmarks, Guterres denounced fossil fuel media and tech company ads, too.
  • "I urge news media and tech companies to stop taking fossil fuel advertising," he said.

The intrigue: In another new step, Guterres also issued a full-throated endorsement of carbon removal technologies as a necessary piece of taking action to limit the pace and extent of global warming.

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