New Zealand

Lawyers for Climate Action Complaint to the Advertising Standards Board

Jurisdiction:


Side A: Lawyers for Climate Action NZ (Ngo)


Side B: Firstgas (Corporation)


Core objectives:

Whether adverts should be withdrawn because they made unsubstantiated environmental claims


Summary
The campaign group Lawyers for Climate Action NZ filed a complaint against Energy company Firstgas regarding an advertising campaign concerning "zero carbon gas". The campaign contained advertisements suggesting that the company was moving towards producing zero carbon gas and that customers could rely on this to reduce their fossil fuel consumption. Part of the campaign read: “New Zealand’s heading towards zero carbon so we’re ensuring our gas is going zero carbon too. You know what that means for you? Absolutely nothing. You can continue doing what you love. And help change the world, without changing too much of yours. Find out more at gasischanging.co.nz.”

The Complaints Board upheld the complaint in part. The Board said the advertisement was misleading because the claims that Firstgas would soon produce zero carbon gas were unsubstantiated environmental statements. The Board did not accept arguments that the advertisement encouraged environmental damage or was in breach of the principle that advertising should "be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility." A minority of the Board disagreed with the finding on "social responsibility", noting that "the advertisement content related to a socially significant issue" and "unsubstantiated claims in this context meant the requirement to exercise a due sense of social responsibility had not been met." The advertisement was ordered to be removed.

Case documents

from the Grantham Research Institute
from the Grantham Research Institute
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