Truth in advertising

The kind of false environmentalism embodied in the Prius has been panned repeatedly on this site. Now, the government of Norway has decided that automobiles cannot claim to be “green,” “clean” or “environmentally friendly.” Bente Oeverli, a Norweigan official, explains that: “Cars cannot do anything good for the environment except less damage than others.”

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

13 thoughts on “Truth in advertising”

  1. Wow, browsing through this past International Security (Summer 2007), Sheena Chestnut published an article on the DPRK. My academic crush continues…
    You should check out the article.

  2. Scott,

    What is the article called? Google Scholar is not being cooperative.

  3. Illicit Activity and Proliferation: North Korean Smuggling Networks
    Chestnut, Sheena.


    Since public disclosure by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) of its uranium enrichment program in 2002 and the subsequent restarting of its plutonium reactor, policymakers and academics have expressed concern that the DPRK will one day export nuclear material or components. An examination of North Korea’s involvement in nonnuclear criminal activities shows that the DPRK has established sophisticated transnational smuggling networks, some of which involve terrorist groups and others that have been able to distribute counterfeit currency and goods on U.S. territory. These networks provide North Korea with a significant amount of much-needed hard currency, but the DPRK regime’s control over them has decreased over time. These developments suggest that North Korea has both the means and motivation for exporting nuclear material, and that concerns over nuclear export from the DPRK, authorized or not, are well founded. When placed in the context of the global nuclear black market, the North Korea case suggests that criminal networks are likely to play an increased role in future proliferation. In addition, it raises the concern that proliferation conducted through illicit networks will not always be well controlled by the supplier state. It is therefore imperative to track and curtail illicit networks not only because of the costs they impose, but also because of the deterrent value of countersmuggling efforts. New strategies that integrate law enforcement, counterproliferation, and nonproliferation tools are likely to have the greatest success in addressing the risks posed by illicit proliferation networks.



  4. This sounds a lot about what happened with ‘light’ and ‘low tar’ cigarettes.

    The trouble is, everyone knows that smoking is deadly. People are less aware of the relative environmental impacts of different activities.

  5. a documentary on tonight…..

    DRIVING DREAMS (part 2)
    Thursday September 13 at 9pm on CBC-TV

    Driving Dreams is about our never-ending love affair with the car
    — how the car of our dreams is created and marketed – a tale of technology and psychology, hot design versus the bottom line.
    Cars are racing into China * creating jobs, making millionaires, changing lives * and fueling ambitions of world economic dominance.
    This episode takes us shopping for a car in Beijing with the Rens, a young couple who can’t wait to own one.


    Advertising ‘green’ cars banned in Norway

    OSLO / No car can be “green,” “clean” or “environmentally friendly,”
    according to some of the world’s strictest advertising guidelines set to go into force in Norway next month.

    “Cars cannot do anything good for the environment except less damage than others,” Bente Oeverli, a senior official at the office of the state run Consumer Ombudsman, told Reuters on Thursday.

    Carmakers such as Toyota, General Motor’s Opel, Mitsubishi, Peugeot Citroen, Saab and Suzuki had all used phrases this year in advertisements that the watchdog judged misleading, she said.

  6. Well done Norway! Governments and environmentalists elsewhere should take heed. The next positive step surely has to be for patronising environmentalists across the globe to stop parroting misleading corporate claims about environmental benefits – such as the David Suzuki Foundation’s oxymoronic “Drive Green” program and its astonishing enthusiasm for the almost wholly unregulated (and thus almost wholly ineffective) market in carbon offsets see .

  7. Sarah,

    Another good step would be ensuring that everyone knows enough to gag when they hear the expression ‘clean coal.’

    Scrubbed, carbon sequestered coal may eventually be technically possible, but it will not be cheap.

  8. For medium to long distance trips to at least moderately obscure locations, when the reasonably efficient car is at least 50% occupied, you will feign to find a more environmentally friendly way of getting yourself there.

  9. Tristan,

    That’s spurious reasoning.

    If you need a commercial plane that flies in the stratosphere at supersonic velocities, you ‘you will feign to find a more environmentally friendly’ option than the Concorde.

    That doesn’t mean the Concorde is ‘green,’ ‘clean,’ or ‘environmentally friendly’ or that it would be fair to represent it as such. Sometimes, it must be recognized that there are no good options for the accomplishing of particular goals.

    Besides, expeditions of the type you describe are hardly the most common usage for automobiles.

  10. European Parliament votes to require car ads include warnings on CO2 emissions

    The European Parliament recently voted that car ads must include warnings on vehicle CO2 emissions. If the rule successfully negotiates the rest of the European Union legislative process, 20 percent of a car ad would have to warn or educate consumers about the CO2 emitted from the vehicles advertised, as well as their fuel consumption. The 20 percent rule would apply to overall space in a print or internet ad and overall ad time for TV and radio commercials. “As you can imagine, it is not something that we would be particularly happy about,” says a spokesperson for an auto industry trade group. Ad companies are also not thrilled since the rule could cut into the $8.6 billion a year that automakers in Western Europe spend on car ads.

  11. Car emissions
    Off track

    Nov 19th 2007

    THE European Union wants to impose mandatory limits on greenhouse-gas emissions from cars. To much opposition from carmakers the European Commission has even proposed that average emissions across each company’s range of vehicles is no more than 130g of carbon dioxide per km by 2012. A study by the European Federation of Transport and Environment, a campaign group, shows just how far short many carmakers are of this contentious target. In 2006 average emissions by all makers selling over 200,000 cars in the EU exceeded the target. Some are even pumping out more carbon dioxide than they did in 2005.


  12. On page 51 of the March 7th issue of The Economist is one of the oddest ads I have ever seen.

    The text reads:

    “Between consuming less and conserving more,
    There is one important word: how

    And it is how that makes all the difference.”

    Above that, there is a picture of a woman and two children sitting on a beach, beside a wooden fence. They all seem to be intently examining a white clam shell.

    The company advertising: Lockheed Martin. By revenue, they are the world’s largest defence contractor. Wikipedia lists their products:

    • Air traffic control systems
    • Ballistic missiles
    • Munitions
    • National missile defense elements
    • Transport aircraft
    • Fighter aircraft
    • Radar
    • Satellite
    • Atlas launch vehicles

    It seems fair to say that most of that stuff is environmentally destructive, and has nothing to do with “consuming less and conserving more.” The best they could probably come up with is saying they build rockets, RADAR, and satellites used to measure climate change and other environmental problems. This seems like greenwashing of the most transparent and idiotic kind.

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