WWF ad complaints against Shell upheld

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld two complaints brought by environmental charity WWF against an advert by oil giant Shell that claimed that its Canadian oil sands project was "sustainable".

Shell's advert, which appeared in the Financial Times earlier this year, indicated that the oil sands deposit was helping to provide a "sustainable future", and that the company was aiding "sustainable energy production" by helping to build the largest refinery in the US. WWF objected to both claims.

The ASA backed the WWF on both counts, judging that "sustainable" was an ambiguous term and that the advert breached the advertisers' code regarding substantiation of information, truthfulness, and environmental claims. As a result, the advert must not appear again in its current form.

Shell argued that it had used a 1987 definition of "sustainable", meaning  "development which meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".

David Norman, WWF-UK's director of campaigns, said:  "Oil sands are one of the world's dirtiest sources of fuel and have a major impact on the environment. Their extraction cannot be described as a sustainable process, and for Shell to claim otherwise is wholly misleading. If Shell were serious about sourcing sustainable energy, then it would be far better placed investing in renewable energy, such as wind, tidal or solar power."

Topics:
Communications

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