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Where the rubber meets the road

Posted 29 October 2007 by Trevor Bowden to Opinion.

A few weeks ago, in “Nothing for cars?“, Jacob was wondering why we still hadn’t seen an ecolabelling scheme for cars — lots of stats and studies, but no comprehensive, consistent metric of which cars are out in front on environmental performance.

According to a recent article in the IHT (An environmental warning proposed for cars in Europe | 28 October 2007), the European Parliament recently proposed a plan whereby,
…20 percent of the space or time of any auto ad would have to be set aside for information on a car’s fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions
This would expand existing information required on emissions levels and fuel consumption – and it looks like carmakers and ad agencies are keen to put the brakes on it.

According to Chris Davies, a British MEP who sponsored the plan,
The rationale is to try to get carmakers to compete on environmental information about their cars, rather than purely on power, speed and appearance…”
Advertisers, on the other hand feel it would be a disincentive for auto makers to advertise, and therefore have impacts in other parts of the media economy.

For all the effort that goes into greening brands, and consumer’s demand for green purchasing information and options, we would have hoped for a more proactive stance — a client’s green credentials are increasingly an important part of the overall brand.

Making the provision of key environmental information mandatory — and consistent — can help to:

undermine greenwashing,
incentivise automakers on increasing efficiency and decreasing emissions,
satisfy consumer demand for disclosure of environmental information,
demonstrate responsibility on the part of advertisers and their agencies.

Buckle up — we expect a long and bumpy road before we get there.