Government climate change adverts banned
ASA says nursery rhyme ads exaggerated likely effects of climate change
The government has vowed to fight on in its efforts to educate the public about climate change after the Advertising Standards Agency banned two of its press ads for overstating the likely effects of global warming.
The two adverts in question - which tried to achieve an impact through transplanting the consequences of global warming into popular nursery rhymes – were commissioned by Ed Miliband, the Energy Secretary, and warned of drought and flooding caused by climate change.
One read: "Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. There was none as extreme weather due to climate change had caused a drought."
Another said: "Rub a dub dub, three men in a tub – a necessary course of action due to flash flooding caused by climate change."
A sign-off line read: "Climate change is happening. Temperature and sea levels are rising. Extreme weather events such as storms, floods and heat waves will become more frequent and intense."
Despite the fact the adverts ran around the time of last November's floods in Cumbria, they sparked the ire of nearly 1,000 members of the public who contacted the ASA to register their complaints, labelling the adverts 'misleading', 'scaremongering', and 'distressing'.
The ASA agreed that the adverts "should have been phrased more tentatively" and banned them from being used again. However, five other adverts in the campaign were still allowed to run.
Milliband said: "We should have phrased the advert better and we will do so in the future... We probably should have made it clearer that this was a prediction."
However, he maintained the government's right to spread awareness of climate change, saying: "Frankly it would be grossly irresponsible of me not to draw peoples' attention to that and not to explain how people can make a difference themselves."
Although the ASA's ruling will doubtless be used by climate change sceptics to further their cause, Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment told the Daily Telegraph: "This does not mean that extreme events in the UK will not increase in frequency and severity, only that our ability to estimate future changes is limited at present.
"The public should be sceptical of anybody who uses this ruling to claim that there will be no change to extreme weather events in the UK if greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere carry on rising." ·
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