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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Response to ASA

Thank you for your letter and email. I am absolutely appalled that you have chosen not to take action on the Airbus advert.

You say in your decision that there was no breach of the code. However I have looked at the code. This advert is clearly and unequivocally in breach. I enclose the relevant sections of your code below with specific failings of the advert:-

49.1 The basis of any claim should be explained clearly and should be qualified where necessary. Unqualified claims can mislead if they omit significant information.

By your own admission the Airbus advert is completely unqualified. The advert merely says “working towards.” They do not say how long it will take nor by how much they intend to reduce greenhouse gases nor do they explain the basis of their claim. It is equivalent to a cigarette company saying they are working towards a cancer free cigarette. A cigarette addict would cling on to this false hope and be less likely to stop smoking. The same is true for a regular flier.

The cigarette manufactures’ adverts in the 1940 and 50s that claimed the safety benefits of filtered cigarettes lead to the death of millions. Climate change will now lead to the death of billions, fuelled on by vested interests such as Airbus who will mislead, misrepresent and offer false hope and false solutions.

49.2 Claims such as ‘environmentally friendly’ or ‘wholly biodegradable’ should not be used without qualification unless marketers can provide convincing evidence that their product will cause no environmental damage when taking into account the full life cycle of the product. Qualified claims and comparisons such as ‘greener’ or ‘friendlier’ may be acceptable if marketers can substantiate that their product provides an overall improvement in environmental terms either against their competitors’ or their own previous products.

Airbus has no convincing evidence of any of the claims that they have made, especially with respect to the claim to be working towards reducing greenhouse gases. I refer you to the Tindal report, 2005 which quantifies the rise in emissions from Aviation. All the evidence proves convincingly that greenhouse gas emissions from aviation are increasing significantly and that any claims that the airline industry is reducing, or can reduce emissions, with out major reductions in capacity is totally false.

49.3 Where there is a significant division of scientific opinion or where evidence is inconclusive this should be reflected in any statements made in the marketing communication. Marketers should not suggest that their claims command universal acceptance if that is not the case.

There is no division of scientific opinion on climate change. In fact, the reverse is true. The absolute consensus is that cuts in excess of 80% need to be made to greenhouse gas emissions. I refer you to the Copenhagen Climate Conference. Furthermore there is absolutely no scientific evidence that suggests the aviation industry can achieve any significant cuts at all. The only supporting documents to demonstrate Airbus is working towards reducing fuel efficiency exist in their marketing departments and the marketing departments of airlines.

It is vital that you properly address this advert and that you are not seen to be failing to act on the defining issue of our time.

Please advise me of your approval process by return.

I will also copy this correspondence to my MP, David Drew.

Kevin Lister
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