Media Smart launches greenwashing awareness guide

Media Smart launches greenwashing awareness guide

UK advertising’s non-profit education programme Media Smart has launched an awareness campaign for teachers, parents and young people to help them understand environmental claims in advertising and marketing.

Media Smart has released a five-point guide and short film, accompanied by a social-media campaign featuring vox pop films from young people, to increase awareness of what constitutes greenwashing.

The campaign cites research showing 52% of teenagers are concerned about the lack of action on climate change, with 56% of them feeling anxious about it.

The campaign will be publicised on Media Smart’s social media channels during March and April.

The importance of tackling alleged greenwsashing by the advertising industry has risen up the political agenda as awareness of climate change has intensified. The UN Secretary General has recently called for “zero tolerance” towards greenwashing a priority this year, while the European Union last year passed legislation designed to tackle climate disinformation. In the UK, the Government’s digital services, competition and consumer bill will reportedly include proposals to impose fines of up to 10% of global turnover for large companies that breach consumer law.

However, Jake Dubbins, co-chair of the Conscious Advertising Network, told The Media Leader that informing young people is “an important piece of the puzzle” but “there are a few missing pieces”.

“If 52% of teenagers are concerned about the lack of action on climate change, the chances are that it is the very business model of the fossil fuel industry that they are concerned about rather than just the greenwashing,” Dubbins said.

“The fossil fuel industry’s business model has recently been called out as ‘inconsistent with human survival.’ I don’t know about the teenagers, but I am incredibly concerned about that as father to a child who will be a teenager in two years.”

He added: “The industry is very good at drawing from inside the industry but one of the most important, educational and humbling parts of the Conscious Advertising Network is involving activists, NGOs and climate scientists in our work. They define the problem in a very different way than we do as advertisers.

“If the IPCC say we are facing a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future then we absolutely need to educate ourselves on greenwash but we also need to have difficult conversations about the root causes of that greenwash.”

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