The statement follows the release of the Green Claims Code in September by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and considers the regulation of environmental claims and issues relating to advertising.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have been prompted to review their environmental claims regulation and announced that later this year they will issue advertising guidance to ensure any marketing material is not misleading consumers.
The guidance will complement that of the CMA, alongside other planned workstreams next year which includes enquiries into the energy, heating and transport industries and commissioned research into consumer comprehension of carbon neutrality.
The ASA’s remit is broad and covers conventional advertising through to email campaigns and pamphlets, and their review “builds on the decades of regulation that the ASA has already delivered on ads that make environmental claims”.
The review contextualises their position in terms of governmental environmental targets and found that although sufficient and comprehensive advertising rules are already in place, these will necessarily have to evolve as climate policy does.
New advertising guidance for industry
Following the review the ASA have confirmed that the Committee of Advertising Practice will issue new advertising guidance to industry, setting out the key principles advertisers need to follow "to ensure their advertisements don’t mislead about the environment and are socially responsible when considering environmental issues".
The ASA also confirmed that they are commencing a series of enquiries into specific issues "starting with the Climate Change Committee’s identified priority areas requiring carbon reduction. These include: aviation, cars, waste, animal-based foods and heating". New research will also be commissioned this autumn into consumer understanding of Carbon Neutral and Net Zero claims.
The guidance released by both the CMA and ASA, plus the promise of more work on the issue in the future, is a positive step toward decreasing the prevalence of greenwashing practices.
Sustainability and the environmental transparency of businesses will be key “as the scale of the challenge to avoid catastrophic climate change becomes ever clearer”. It is also a demonstration of the increasing regulatory spotlight on problematic sustainability claims.