On a sleepy Saturday morning across Bristol, activists were busy covering up corporate adverts with large sheets of paper. They asked Bristol residents to write on them and shape the messages of their own surroundings, instead of passively consuming the content of adverts.
Adblock Bristol, which is part of the national Ad Free Cities network, co-ordinated the direct action to raise awareness about fossil fuel advertising, as similar events took place across Europe.
South Bristol resident Nicola Round, who ran the action on North Street, corralled locals into sharing their thoughts on how they were feeling and how they’d like the city to be greener. It was during the same week that saw Greenpeace block the harbour in Rotterdam that Shell uses to reach its oil refinery, to protest high carbon advertising.
Similar actions were coordinated on Gloucester Road and in Easton, to raise local awareness about fossil fuel advertising and Adblock Bristol’s campaign to remove the digital M32 billboards.
According to the group, the billboards are some of the worst examples of the impacts of digital advertising screens on the climate, as they are both energy-hungry and promote high carbon products and lifestyles.
North Somerset recently joined Norwich and Liverpool as councils which have banned fossil fuel advertising in the UK, with similar movement taking place in some places in Europe. North Somerset council’s low carbon advertising policy, once written, should spell the end of adverts for petrol and diesel cars – particularly SUVs – as well as airlines, airports and fossil fuels.
This year, Bristol City Council banned adverts on their own sites that promote junk food, gambling and pay day loans, but Round of Adblock Bristol said this “doesn’t go far enough”. She describes banning fossil fuel advertising as a moral imperative, much like the ban of tobacco advertising.
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