Environmental terms confuse Brits and make them wary of greenwashing says ad watchdog
The advertising regulator has called for greater standardisation of environmental terms after it found that many Brits struggled to understand what terms like “net zero” actually mean.
In a report published by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) this morning, it said that while “carbon neutral” and “net zero” were the most familiar phrases, there was little public consensus about their definition and the difference between them.
Director of Complaints and Investigations at the ASA Miles Lockwood explained that this lack of understanding means that the UK public “remain wary of greenwashing”.
The regulator has called for environmental terms to be simplified, which will be key for providing clarity about their usage by independent bodies like the ASA.
The ASA also said it planned to look back at previous rulings on hybrid and electric vehicles.
The report comes as the ASA continues to crack down on misleading environmental advertising. Just this week the watchdog banned a series of green ads from HSBC, which failed to acknowledge the bank’s own contributions to emissions.
However, advertising partner at law firm Lewis Silkin Geraint Lloyd-Taylor said he was concerned that the ASA was “letting perfection be the enemy of the good”.
“While other regulators around the world are working towards the same goal of ensuring environmental claims are true and not misleading, the approach of the UK regulators appears to be out of kilter,” he told City A.M.
He warned the current strategy from the watchdog could make the UK an unattractive place for companies to do business, or at least to advertise.