Press release: 4 October 2021

European citizens urged to join call to ban fossil fuel advertising and sponsorships

Lawyers from ClientEarth are joining more than 20 civil society organisations today in launching the first ever Europe-wide campaign calling for a ban on fossil fuel advertising and sponsorships in the EU.

The European Citizens’ InitiativeBan Fossil Fuel Advertising and Sponsorships” has been launched with less than a month to go before the crucial UN climate conference in Glasgow, COP 26.

The proposed ban would prohibit any advertisement or sponsorship in the European Union by companies selling fossil fuels, vehicles running on fossil fuels, and flights or ferries that run on fossil fuels.

ClientEarth is urging European citizens to join the initiative, following revelations in its recent Greenwashing Files research, which confirms that advertising from some of the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies are misleading the public.

ClientEarth climate lawyer Johnny White said:

“There is no evidence that the companies behind these campaigns are willing to be transparent in their advertisements about the harm their businesses and plans cause to our environment. We’ve no time for companies to reassure us they’re sustainable when they’re not.

“Legislative action for a ban on all fossil fuel advertisements is the best chance we have to stamp out deceptive greenwashing that distracts the public from the real issue: polluting companies must rapidly reduce oil and gas production to curb the worst impacts of global warming.”

Greenpeace EU climate and energy campaigner Silvia Pastorelli said:

“Banning fossil fuel advertising is a necessary response to the harm which burning fossil fuels continues to cause to nature, the climate and people’s health. Our latest research shows that fossil fuel companies consistently mislead the public in an effort to delay climate action.

“This ban is a concrete move which will hasten the rapid phase-out of this deadly and deceitful industry. It’s time for citizens all over Europe to stand up and exercise their rights so that we can end the era of oil, coal and gas.”

New research

Today Greenpeace Netherlands also published the report “Words vs. Actions: The Truth Behind Fossil Fuel Advertising", an analysis of fossil fuel advertising conducted by DeSmog. The investigation assessed over 3,000 adverts published on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube since the launch of the European Green Deal, from December 2019 to April 2021. The six companies analysed were Shell, Total Energies, Preem, Eni, Repsol and Fortum.

The report found that an average of 63% of the companies’ assessed advertisements were greenwashing: misleading consumers by failing to accurately reflect the companies’ business and promoting false solutions such as fossil gas as clean energy alternatives. For those with the worst offending adverts - Shell, Preem and Fortum -  81% of each company’s ads were classified as greenwashing.


Notes to editors:
  • The organisations supporting this European Citizens’ Initiative are:

    ActionAid, Adfree Cities, Air Clim, Avaaz, Badvertising,, ClientEarth, Ecologistas en Acción, Europe Beyond Coal, FOCSIV, Food and Water Action Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Fundación Renovables, Global Witness, Greenpeace, New Weather Institute Sweden, Plataforma por un Nuevo Modelo Energético, Reclame Fossielvrij, ReCommon, Stop Funding Heat, STPC, Zero.

  • For more information about the European Citizens’ Initiative, “Ban Fossil Fuel Advertising and Sponsorships”, visit A European Citizens’ Initiative (or ECI) is a petition that is officially recognised by the European Commission, and pre-approved by them. If an ECI reaches one million verified signatures in the timeframe allowed, then the European Commission is legally obliged to respond, and may consider making our demands into European law. If an ECI reaches one million verified signatures in the timeframe allowed, then the European Commission is legally obliged to respond, and may consider making our demands into European law.

About ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.