2013 U12 Delano Soccer

Guterres’ Historic Call on Banning Fossil Fuel Ads / Reactions

Reactions from civil society leaders to the historic announcement made by Guterres - The UN Secretary - General on fossil fuel advertising ban.

On World Environment Day, UN Secretary-General Guterres delivered a pivotal speech at the American Museum of Natural History calling for countries to ban fossil fuel advertising in the same way in which they handled tobacco advertising. 

He also called for advertising and PR companies to stop acting as their enablers and set out plans to drop their fossil fuel industry clients as well as urged news media and tech companies to stop taking fossil fuel advertising.

The excerpts from his speech on banning fossil fuel advertising:

“Many in the fossil fuel industry have shamelessly greenwashed, even as they have sought to delay climate action – with lobbying, legal threats, and massive ad campaigns.

They have been aided and abetted by advertising and PR companies – Mad Men fuelling the madness.

 I call on these companies to stop acting as enablers to planetary destruction.

Stop taking on new fossil fuel clients, from today, and set out plans to drop your existing ones.

Fossil fuels are not only poisoning our planet – they’re toxic for your brand.

Your sector is full of creative minds who are already mobilising around this cause.

They are gravitating towards companies that are fighting for our planet – not trashing it.

I also call on countries to act. Many governments restrict or prohibit advertising for products that harm human health – like tobacco.

 Some are now doing the same with fossil fuels.

I urge every country to ban advertising from fossil fuel companies.

And I urge news media and tech companies to stop taking fossil fuel advertising.”


“UN Secretary-General António Guterres deserves recognition for saying so clearly that advertising and PR agencies should be cutting ties with fossil fuel polluters. This is a turning point in the advertising and PR industry’s relationship with climate change and fossil fuels. There is no longer any cover for agencies to say that they are doing the right thing when working with polluters. Everyone knows this is wrong, and everyone needs to act. 

Over 1,100 advertising, PR and creative companies have already taken the Clean Creatives pledge, and they are the true leaders on this issue. We are living through the hottest years in human history, and Secretary Guterres’ statements today show what a safe climate future could look like for the creative and PR industry.”

Duncan Meisel- Executive Director, Clean Creatives.


The Secretary General’s speech is a huge signal to the advertising industry. As the misinformation tactics of the tobacco industry and the threat of its products to human health became clear, advertising was restricted and then banned. The same will happen for fossil fuel advertising. The industry should see this as a tipping point, but one of opportunity. The UK’s Net Zero economy is growing. Kenya has leapfrogged most economies and has already achieved more than 90% electricity production from renewable sources, an enormous advantage to its future economy. These industries are growing while the writing is on the wall for fossil fuels and their ads. Will the industry fully embrace the opportunities of the transition and secure a liveable future or will it risk the maintenance of the status quo at the cost to its people, its non-fossil fuel clients and its reputation? The time to lead is now.’ 

Jake Dubbins – Co-Chair – Conscious Advertising Network


“Promoting the fossil fuel industry is harmful to the climate and our health. That is why more and more municipalities and media around the world are banning fossil advertising. Europe once championed a ban on tobacco advertising. On the eve of EU elections, we call on our political leaders to heed this statement by Antonio Guterres and push for a ban on advertising from the fossil fuel industry, which is even more harmful than the tobacco industry.”

Femke Sleegers – Reclame Fossielvrij / Fossil Free Advertising


“Banning fossil fuel advertising and forcing the PR sector to cut ties with systemically polluting companies is a clear necessity for building a cleaner and fairer future. We can either have a rapid transition away from fossil fuels, or we can have fossil fuel industry influence continuing to permeate our societies and subvert climate action. We can’t have both.”

Johnny White, ClientEarth Lawyer


It’s about time the PR industry, especially the large multinational conglomerates, are called out for their role in moving fossil fuel propaganda.  These firms make millions on contracts from oil companies and other polluters who strive to continue business as usual as the world burns. 

Lies and deception are the heart of the climate crisis. It’s time to stop them.”

Kert Davies, Director of Special Investigations, Center for Climate Integrity


“Fossil money is everywhere making the ambitious action on climate that the science says we need difficult or impossible—social scientists have shown this pattern— it’s ubiquitous and it’s devastating. The “enablers” are a key part of this blockage—PR firms, social and legacy media, consultancies, law firms and financial actors all play roles in the obstruction of our building a liveable future, which soon has to be without fossil fuels.”

Timmons Roberts, Ittleson Professor of Environment and Society, Brown University

Executive Director, Climate Social Science Network


“We know that fossil fuel companies routinely employ sophisticated messaging strategies to oppose climate action and preserve the status quo. In recent years, these companies have targeted their considerable communications budgets towards social media platforms, using online ads to influence public opinion, particularly around key policy events. 

The ability to reach different demographics with varied, targeted and often misleading information represents a massive advantage to fossil fuel interests looking to undermine political support for climate action.

It’s time big tech came clean about how their platforms are being used. Along with governments, they need to take decisive action to stop these sophisticated tools being exploited by powerful vested interests that want to block climate action”.

Tom Holen, Program Manager, Energy Transition- LobbyMap, InfluenceMap


We applaud the Secretary-General for holding these powerful industries accountable for spreading climate disinformation and greenwashing their activities. There is no reason that companies like Google should flood climate-related searches with fossil fuel propaganda. Governments should ban fossil fuel ads, similar to the tobacco industry, and stop the monetization of lies about climate and energy policy.”

 Michael Khoo, Climate Disinformation Program Director, Friends of the Earth


“Guterres couldn’t be any clearer: the advertising and promotion of fossil fuels is accelerating the destruction of the environment we all rely upon. A ‘tobacco-style’ ban would be a vital step in moving beyond fossil fuels, for the health of people and the planet.

But one sector that escaped the limelight in today’s speech was sport. Elite sports are highly dependent on investment from fossil fuel majors and petrostates, with some of the most well-known teams and athletes consistently used as walking billboards for the companies that are actively undermining a future in which sport can be played. Sports organizations must heed to Guterres’ rallying call and acknowledge the risks posed to them by continuing to promote these companies. Sport was key to kicking out tobacco – now it’s time to do the same with fossil fuels.”

Freddie Daley, University of Sussex and the Cool Down Sport For Climate Action Network


“This game changing intervention by the most senior figure in the United Nations follows groundbreaking recent moves by cities internationally ranging from Edinburgh and Sheffield in the UK, to Stockholm in Sweden, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and many others to ban not just advertising from fossil fuel companies, but from other major fossil fuel polluters like the aviation and car industries. Badvertising campaigns for an end to adverts that fuel the climate emergency, now the most senior, independent global political figure is calling on the world to back this goal.”

Andrew Simms, co-author of Badvertising: Polluting Our Minds and Fuelling Climate Chaos