A report has said that adverts for sports utility vehicles (SUVs) should be banned in the UK so that climate goals can be met.
SUVs consume more fuel and produce more CO2 emissions than the average car due to their size and weight.
According to the International Energy Agency, the spike in the numbers of SUVs worldwide is the second-largest contributor to global carbon emissions since 2010.
However, the joint report from climate charity Possible, and thinktank New Weather Institute, show that the manufacturers of SUVs are increasing their share of the UK vehicle market and spending many millions on ad campaigns to market gas-guzzlers.
Four in ten new cars sold in the UK are SUVs, whereas only 2% are fully electric vehicles. Worldwide, there has been a 60% increase in the number of SUVs on roads since 2010.
The report argues that the increase in SUV sales is putting climate goals at risk, and calls for a tobacco-style ban on advertising for cars that have average emissions over a certain limit.
“Tobacco causes damage to the consumers, and tobacco companies benefit from the way that they hook their most loyal customers … SUVs are marketed as providing protection for drivers, [but] their physical size, weight and pollution levels create a more dangerous and toxic urban environment for both drivers and pedestrians,” said the report.
Co-director of the New Weather Institute, Andrew Simms, said: “We ended tobacco advertising when we understood the threat from smoking to public health.
“Now that we know the human health and climate damage done by car pollution, it’s time to stop adverts making the problem worse. In a pandemic-prone world, people need clean air and more space on town and city streets.”
According to researchers, an advertising ban would force companies to dedicate more resources to increasing fuel efficiency in cars.
However, the report warns that the rise in SUV sales is a real threat to the UK’s climate targets:
“The UK government’s plan for reaching net zero emissions relies on British drivers quickly switching away from buying traditional petrol and diesel cars to cleaner electric vehicles instead.
“That is now starting to happen, but there’s a problem: we’ve been switching to buying SUVs even faster, and as a result the average carbon emissions of a new car sold in the UK have been going up instead of down for the past four years.”
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