The City of Sydney Council last night (August 22) voted to ban fossil fuel advertising in central Sydney.
The move will stop such advertising in outdoor spaces in Sydney city including on bus shelters and other street furniture. The city has one of the largest outdoor advertising networks in the world, reaching more than two million people a week.
The City of Sydney – which has become only the second city in the world to do this – is the local government area covering the Sydney central business district and surrounding inner city suburbs. It is home to over 200,000 residents and is the biggest commercial centre in Australia.
The motion, put forward by Deputy Mayor, Jess Scully stated; ‘the City of Sydney should also investigate ways to restrict fossil fuel advertising and Council should not accept sponsorships from companies whose main business is the extraction or sale of coal, oil and gas.’
The City accepts sponsorships for events such as New Year’s Eve and has one of the largest outdoor advertising networks in the world, seen by more than 2 million people a week. City of Sydney Deputy Lord Mayor Jess Scully said the City of Sydney declared a climate emergency in 2019 and said she was proud to support a campaign that would see a ban on fossil
She told the meeting – “I think this is the moment we can draw a line in the sand and say ‘not here’ and ‘no more’
because we know that the people of the City of Sydney do want climate action, they do want us to move away from a fossil-fuel dependent economy and they do know that to do that we need to get rid of the whitewashing, get rid of the self-promotion that the sector is doing.”
Sydney’s move follows an open letter from more than 200 health professionals and organisations, asking for Fossil Ad Bans because of the devastating health and climate effects of burning coal, oil and gas.
Initiated by Comms Declare, a coalition for positive climate action from the communication, creative and advertising sector, the Fossil Ad Ban campaign aims to achieve tobacco-style bans on ads and sponsorships for fossil fuels at local, state and federal levels. In April, Yarra became the first council in Australia to move to restrict the promotion of fossil fuels on council-run property, followed by Moreland in July.
Comms Declare Founder, Belinda Noble said “Congratulations to the people of Sydney, your streets and events may soon be free of the insidious promotion of toxic fossil fuels.
“While we transition to cleaner energy it’s imperative that legacy industries are not allowed to greenwash their businesses or delay emissions reduction efforts.I look forward to working with the City of Sydney to help implement these restrictions and hope other Australian cities and councils will similarly prioritise the health and wellbeing of their communities by preventing the promotion of pollution.”
Studies have found that air pollution from burning fossil fuels claims between 2,616 and 5,700 lives in Australia every year – more than road accidents. Globally air pollution from burning fossil fuels claims more lives than smoking.
Sydney’s air pollution is regularly above recommended levels and city residents face numerous threats from global warming including more intense heat waves, droughts, less drinkable water and sea level rise.
The writer of this article is Dr. Seema Javed, a known Environmentalist, Journalist and Communications Expert