Should Car Ads Carry Climate Change Health Warnings?

new york city traffic photo

photo: Rupert Gazner via flickr

Considering the impact on the planet that our love affair with cars has in terms of carbon emissions—leave aside the impact as we increasingly cater for cars in the built environment—should car advertisements carry climate change "health warnings"? The Guardian reports that UK Labour MP Colin Challen thinks so:

He said the car industry was spending £800m a year on UK advertising prior to the recession, while the government's public education campaign ActOnCO2 cost just £12m over three years. "It's no contest," said Challen, writing in an online comment piece for the Guardian. He added that it is "wholly counter-intuitive to expect people to change their behaviour when most of the daily messages they receive tell them it's business as usual".

Car promotions should carry climate change message, said Challen, who is a member of the Commons Energy and Climate Change select committee. "You maybe have 25 or 35% of the space of any promotional material given over to a health warning. These warnings would be graded depending on the emissions from the vehicle, with the worst gas-guzzlers carrying the most severe warnings. "It would have to counter the impression given by some manufacturers that their vehicles are greener," Challen added.

A Great Green Idea? What Say You?
The idea has been proposed before in the UK, but what do TreeHugger readers think, regardless of where you live?

Leave aside the fact that you would have to also mandate the size and/or time on screen that the notice was included. Without such a clause, it would all just be included at a font-size so small that no one could possibly read it, or appear so quickly in amongst the financial details which remind you that unless your credit is better than perfect you won't be getting that super low interest rate.

Also leave aside the details of what this text would say. Would it be a generic statement or specific to the vehicle or tailored to the vehicle in question? There does seem to be merit to the idea of revising how we report fuel efficient, from miles per gallon to gallons per mile, or perhaps in addition reporting the greenhouse gas emissions per mile. Or maybe just a cigarette-style warning: Driving Will Be The Death of Us All?

But consider that the EPA all but officially considers six greenhouse gases to be threats to human health—there are still some public hearings, but I can't believe the EPA will not officially label them health threats, and be forced into regulating them in one way or the other.

So should car advertisements be required to include some statement regarding the climate change impact, and therefore human health impact, of the vehicle? And if so, how should it be worded? What about other fossil fuel-powered vehicles and tools you can purchase like motorcycles, scooters or lawnmowers, etc.?

via: The Guardian
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