All party conferences have been under-reported this year, and the Green Party Autumn Conference is no exception. Held online like all the others, conference ended last week with a pioneering new policy.

Official party policy is made by members who attend conference and vote on policy motions and amendments. This year members of The Green Party of England and Wales have called for the end of advertising for “high carbon” goods and services. The new policy is designed to “bring advertising rules into the 21st century” by phasing out adverts for goods and services which are harmful to the climate, such as big SUVs and long-haul flights.

Restrictions on advertising are nothing new, for products which are socially and/or physically harmful. Tobacco has been banned from being advertised and promoted in the UK since 2003, and a study three years later by BMJ journal Tobacco Control found that the ban “significantly reduced exposure to pro-tobacco marketing influences” and their conclusions were found to “support the effectiveness of comprehensive bans on advertising”.

Time restrictions have been placed on TV advertising of junk food, to make them less attractive to children. If we want to change behaviour, we need to recognise the influence that advertising has – otherwise why would producers spend vast amounts of money on it. In August 2020, the ‘Badvertising’ campaign called for adverts for SUVs to face a similar ban, noting that such vehicles make up more than 40% of new cars now sold in the UK, while fully electric vehicles count for less than 2%.

Learning from the cigarette advertising campaign, we can do the same for products which are trashing our planet. Ending advertising for high carbon goods and services would be a simple and socially beneficial way to reduce UK carbon emissions.

This year we have faced the Covid emergency and learned that it’s not the things we have thrust upon us from billboards, TV and radio that matter most. Facing the climate emergency, and hosting the climate summit next year, it can’t be right that we are bombarded by endless adverts demanding we fly more, drive bigger cars and burn more fossil fuels. We challenge our Government to adopt our common-sense policy to curb the influence of the biggest polluters.