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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Demand for Appeal on Airbus Advert complaint

Dear Julia,

Thank you for your response to my complaint. However I am appalled by your decision that shows a wilful disregard of the facts and total contempt for your position.

You say in your response that, “We can and do take action where we feel that an ad is likely to cause harm or misleading consumers to their detriment.” This advert is a clear and blatant attempt to do this.

For Airbus to claim that they will “reduce greenhouse gases” is a blatant lie and does nothing other than mislead consumers. In your decision you have made the assumption that the airlines passengers are rational and informed individuals who care about climate change. I beg to differ. I have known many that do not care, who believe climate change is fraud, or believe that because they are flying modern jets they are environmentally friendly. Many of these people simply seek to find the information that justifies their actions. Adverts of this type perpetuate this illogically selfish attitude and provide food for their actions.

You have said, “[You] note that [I] object to the advertisers’ claim to be reducing its environmental impact by lowering fuel consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. While such claims would require substantiations, we have studied the ad and note that the advertisers are in fact more circumspect. The claim in the press ad doesn’t state that they have lowered fuel consumption and reduced noise and greenhouse gas emissions by a specific amount.” The advert does not need to claim it is reducing its emissions by a specific amount. By your argument the passengers of an Airbus should understand that they are causing untold environmental damage, and hence when they read that the manufacturer “works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions” they would expect a significant reduction in the totality of the emissions. In reality the reverse is true. The efficiency gains that Airbus achieves will be used to sell planes that travel further and carry more people and not to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions. Thus there is no way that Airbus can ever make a justifiable claim to be working towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Also, Airbus has deliberately targeted the sale of A380 Super Jumbos as private jets. This is further categorical evidence that Airbus is not in any way working towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

You are entirely misinformed in your decision on biofuels. You say the first generation types of biofuels “are unsuitable for use in the aviation industry.” There is no evidence at all that the aviation industry will not try and make use of palm oil, coconut (as used by Virgin Atlantic) or any other crop that they can economically purchase. Further more, the second-generation biofuels such as Jatropha (as used by Air New Zealand), which is being grown in Africa and India, has lead to wide spread deforestation and displacement of indigenous people. Despite what the proponents of biofuel say, in our over crowded planet there is no unused marginal land and Jatropha does not grow in deserts.

The much touted third generation biofuels using genetically modified algae and other crops have not yet been proven and will introduce many other dangerous environment risks. Many of these risks will have profound implications for biodiversity on our planet.

Finally you say, “We are therefore satisfied that consumers are likely to understand that, despite the increase in air traffic, the advertisers are actively seeking ways in which to reduce their environmental impact.” This assertion of yours is root of the problem and demonstration that you have not understood the implication of my complaint. Firstly, there is absolutely no way that Airbus can claim to be reducing environmental impact when they are simultaneously selling as many of the worlds biggest super jumbos as possible. Secondly, as you say many readers will fall for the claim of this article and actually believe that Airbus are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is your job to stop this happening.

You also need to consider this article in the context that denial of climate change has been the biggest fraud perpetuated on the human population. It is a fraud that has been pushed by those organisations such as the oil industry, car manufactures and the aviation industry and others through a concerted effort. I refer you to David Wasdell's You tube video. This advert, having the underlying claim that aviation can be made environmentally friendly, is part of this fraud. I re-emphasise that it is your duty to ensure that this fraud is not perpetuated at this time of planetary emergency.

I therefore insist that you take action on this or refer me to either a higher body with the ASA or an appeal process.

I will copy this email to my MP.

Kevin Lister
I note that the ASA Annual Report says on environmental issues, "There is a lack of official consensus on definitions and what can be called ‘green’. Set against this, ASA research last year revealed little basic understanding of environmental claims."

Given this statement from your own organisation, then your assertions that, “We think that most consumers are likely to understand their [Airbus’] claim to be working towards reducing that [environmental] detriment is relative to the industry within which they operate,” is even more ridiculous. From the statement in your Annual Report, it is reasonable to assume that most passengers are probably unaware of the environmental damage that aviation is causing and that the scientific evidence now points to runaway climate change having started. This advert, which contains the blatant mistruth that Airbus are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adds to the false impression that climate change can be stopped by simple initiatives such as flying on modern jets.

There can be no dispute that the intent of this advert is to portray Airbus as a concerned company against all the evidence of the damage that their products are causing. It is equivalent to a tobacco company sponsoring a school fete, and the parents being told that it is okay because all kids know that tobacco can kill them.
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