Yarra City Council bans fossil fuel ads to address Climate Emergency

Wednesday 19 July 2023

A graphic with a depiction of a town hall, a platypus, other nature elements and a solar panel

Yarra City Council will implement a ban on new fossil fuel advertising across all Council property in support of action on climate change, following a Council resolution on 18 July.

City of Yarra Mayor, Claudia Nguyen, said, “Climate change is a global emergency and Yarra City Council is supporting our community’s demand to take sensible and meaningful local action.”

“Our updated advertising policy will apply to all venues and facilities owned by the City of Yarra. The fossil fuel advertising ban is being phased in sensibly and will apply as existing commercial agreements expire.”

“From our careful and considered research, we expect the impact on community groups and businesses to be minimal and restricted to advertising at the Victoria Park sporting ground. We are in conversation with key stakeholders and are confident Yarra will remain a vibrant epicentre for local sport.”

“Council is already reducing carbon emissions in a number of ways including through initiatives at our buildings and operations that service our municipality. Banning fossil fuel advertising at council properties is a logical and positive next step that we hope will support positive thinking and action around global warming and renewable energy.”

“Banning the promotion of products or services that conflict with community values is not a new role for governments to play. Federal, state and local governments already restrict publicly owned assets from promoting services or products like alcohol, gambling and tobacco.”

“Sport occupies a prominent place in Australian society. Like tobacco companies, fossil fuel companies have sought to use sponsorship and advertising to connect their brands with our vibrant sporting culture. When tobacco sponsorship was banned twenty years ago, some argued Australian sport would suffer. Today our sporting culture is as rich and vibrant as ever.”

Jasper Pittard, Co-Founder of Footy for Climate and former AFL footballer said, "We'd like to see sponsorships that keep the future of our planet and our game as a priority. We understand the difficulty professional athletes can experience when talking about the sponsors of their teams and their sports, and the conflicts that these sponsorships can have with the values of some of the players.”

“Like tobacco in the years gone by, we don't want to encourage social licence for companies that put the health of our players, fans and planet at risk."

Yarra City Council’s move comes as a campaign to ban fossil fuel ads and sponsorships grows, as the world moves away from a fossil-fuel dependent economy.

Overseas, restrictions on fossil fuel advertising are already in place in France, along with local government areas in the United Kingdom, The Netherlands and Sweden.

In Australia, the ACT has banned fossil fuel ads on its trams, and 12 Australian councils, including Sydney, have voted to end fossil fuel ads or sponsorships on community property. Four bans have already been implemented.

Belinda Noble, Founder of Comms Declare – a coalition of marketing, public relations, advertising and media professionals that have declared for the climate – said, “From the British Museum to Cricket Australia, there is a growing global movement against the promotion of coal, petroleum and gas products. Mainstream Australia is overwhelmingly against the advertising of unhealthy products and fossil fuel advertising will soon be as unacceptable as tobacco is now.”

Notable sporting and cultural organisations across Australia are increasingly aligning with mainstream Australia by distancing themselves from fossil fuel companies. Cricket Australia will this year end a long-term sponsorship by Alinta Energy, Tennis Australia ended its partnership with Santos, while Opera Australia has parted ways with Exxon.

Dr Portia Odell, Director, Cities Power Partnership at the Climate Council said, “Climate change, fuelled by burning coal, oil, and gas is disrupting our way of life, and local governments and their communities are on the frontline of climate impacts.”

“Local governments are leading local action to tackle climate change, so it’s a natural step for councils like the City of Yarra to remove fossil fuel sponsorships and send a message that the health and well-being of their community comes first. We encourage councils around the country to do the same and forge new partnerships with companies that align with their values and a sustainable future.”

In addition to being the main cause of climate change, burning fossil fuels has a significant impact on people’s health. In July last year, more than 200 health professionals and organisations signed an open letter to Australian lawmakers, demanding an end to promotions for coal, oil and gas.

Dr Ben Dunne, a thoracic surgeon who lives in the City of Yarra and is the Co-Convenor of Doctors for the Environment Australia's Sustainable Healthcare Special Interest Group said, "Fossil fuel combustion is having a devastating effect on our health – it pollutes our air and is the primary cause of climate disruption. More frequent and intense heat waves, severe storms, floods and other extreme weather have led to tragic loss of lives and chronic and acute illnesses in Australia and across the globe.”

“Banning fossil fuel advertising will encourage the shift in social and political attitudes that we urgently need to transition to safer, cleaner energy to protect lives.”

Yarra City Council Mayor, Claudia Nguyen said the Council had heeded the community’s feedback to take decisive action and be a leader on global warming and climate change.

“We are very proud to have been one of the first Councils in Australia to declare a Climate Emergency, and now one of the first taking action by banning fossil fuel advertising.”


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