Page last updated at 10:26 GMT, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 11:26 UK

'Scary' UK climate ad faces probe

Bedtime stories ad
The bedtime stories ad warns about the dangers of climate change

A £6m government ad warning about climate change is to be investigated by watchdogs over claims it is misleading and too "scary" for children.

The Advertising Standards Authority has received 357 complaints about the Department of Energy and Climate Change's "bedtime stories" ad.

The ad aims to make adults feel guilty about the impact their carbon emissions are having on their children's future.

It is being used to promote DECC's Act on CO2 carbon reduction initiative.

The minute-long ad, which launched on 9 October, features a father telling his daughter a bedtime story about "a very very strange" world with "horrible consequences" for children.

It then goes on to show streets and houses underwater, with cartoon animals and people drowning and a jagged-tooth monster in the sky, representing global warming.

Taste and decency

It also includes scientific claims including the line: "The grown-ups discovered that over 40% of the CO2 comes from everyday things like keeping houses warm and driving cars."

Bedtime stories ad
The ad has been accused of frightening children

The government has already been prevented from screening the ad during children's programmes.

But the ASA has still received complaints from parents saying it is too frightening, although most complainants questioned the scientific basis of the claim that climate change is man-made.

An ASA spokeswoman said: "It is not just about the issue of climate change in this particular case. We have had a huge number of complaints about the science but also whether the ad itself is scary for children."

She said the watchdog would be investigating whether the claims about climate change could be substantiated and whether the ad complied with taste and decency rules.

But because of the complex issues involved the probe is likely to take longer than normal, she added.

The ad is directed at adults, but we know that the proposition to 'protect the next generation' is a motivating one
Joan Ruddock, climate change minister

The authority could place further restrictions on when ad can be shown or ban it altogether, if the ad is found to be in breach of its codes.

The campaign was launched after government research suggested more than 50% of people in the UK did not think climate change would affect them.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Joan Ruddock last week defended the approach taken in the advertisement.

She said: "The Department of Energy and Climate Change stands by the messages in the television ad, and the creative approach.

"The ad is directed at adults, but we know that the proposition to 'protect the next generation' is a motivating one.

"Climate change is not just a problem for generations of people far in the future, it is happening now, it affects us and our children, and we owe it to them to take action now to prevent its worst effects."

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