Page last updated at 09:05 GMT, Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Climate change 'exaggerated' in government adverts

Two government press adverts which used nursery rhymes to raise awareness of climate change have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

It said the advertisements went beyond mainstream scientific consensus in asserting that climate change would cause flooding and drought.

A total of 939 people complained to the ASA about the "Act on CO2" campaign.

Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said the ads should have been "phrased better" but defended the campaign.

Three other advertisements, including a TV commercial, were cleared by the advertising watchdog.


The climate change TV advert has been cleared by the ASA after complaints

The ASA ruled that the banned adverts, created on behalf of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to promote its carbon reduction initiative, made exaggerated claims about the threat posed to the UK by global warming.

Two posters juxtaposed adapted extracts from popular nursery rhymes with text that warned about the dangers of global warning.

One of the banned adverts read: "Rub a dub, three men in a tub, a necessary course of action due to flash flooding caused by climate change."

Bedtime stories ad

And a second said Jack and Jill could not fetch a pail of water because extreme weather due to climate change had caused a drought.

The ASA upheld complaints against these two advertisements, saying a claim that "extreme weather events would become more frequent and intense" should have been phrased more tentatively.

It noted that predictions about the potential impact of global warming made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "involved uncertainties" that had not been reflected in the adverts.

The advertising watchdog said the text accompanying the rhymes should have used more tentative language in both instances.


However, the watchdog cleared complaints against a TV commercial, showing a young girl being read a nightmarish bedtime story by her father about a world blighted by climate change.

Mr Miliband said he accepted the ruling and admitted a mistake had been made in the type of language used.


"We should have phrased the advert better and we will do so in the future," he told the Today programme.

"We probably should have made it clearer that this was a prediction and we should have made it clearer the basis of the claim."

However, he said the watchdog had not questioned the "big picture" that "man-made climate change was happening".

Government had a duty to make people aware of the dangers of climate change and the campaign had been a success.

"What is the job of the government? It is to lead. Sitting in the position I do, meeting the scientists I do, who tell me about their great fears about climate change and the impact it will have on peoples' way of life and the very high likelihoods we will see the events we were talking about in those ads.

"Frankly it would be grossly irresponsible of me not to draw people's attention to that and not to explain how people can make a difference themselves."

The government would "continue to provide public information about the dangers of climate change", he added.

Print Sponsor

Government advertising costs soar
14 Feb 10 |  UK Politics
'Scary' UK climate ad faces probe
21 Oct 09 |  UK Politics
Quit call over blocked green ad
09 Feb 09 |  Northern Ireland

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Mail Online UK Jack and Jill hyped up the risks of global warming in government adverts for children - 15 hrs ago
Yahoo! UK and Ireland UK climate change adverts banned - 17 hrs ago
Channel 4 News Government ads 'overstate climate risks' - 26 hrs ago
Sky News Nursery Rhyme Climate Change Adverts Banned - 33 hrs ago
The Scotsman Ads overstate climate change risk - 34 hrs ago

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific