OSLO No car can be "green," "clean" or
"environmentally friendly," according to some of the world's
strictest advertising guidelines set to enter into force in
Norway next month.
"Cars cannot do anything good for the environment except
less damage than others," Bente Oeverli, a senior official at
the office of the state-run Consumer Ombudsman, told Reuters on
Carmakers such as Toyota, General Motor's Opel, Mitsubishi,
Peugeot Citroen, Saab and Suzuki had all used phrases this year
in advertisements that the watchdog judged misleading, she
One Toyota advertisement for a Prius, for instance,
described the gasoline-electric hybrid as "the world's most
environmentally friendly car."
"If someone says their car is more 'green' or
'environmentally friendly' than others then they would have to
be able to document it in every aspect from production, to
emissions, to energy use, to recycling," she said.
"In practice that can't be done," she said of tougher
guidelines entering into force in Norway from October 15.
The guidelines distributed to carmakers said: "We ask that
... phrases such as 'environmentally friendly', 'green',
'clean', 'environmental car', 'natural' or similar descriptions
not be used in marketing cars."
Carmakers would risk fines if they failed to drop the
words. Oeverli said she did not know of other countries going
so far in cracking down on cars and the environment.
In one ruling abroad, for instance, Britain's advertising
watchdog said that Volvo advertisements should not repeat a
claim that its C30 car was "designed with the utmost respect
for the environment in mind."
Oeverli said carmakers, who are making huge investments in
cleaning up emissions, seemed happy to get clearer rules about
advertising. In future in Norway, they could only give
information that could be firmly documented.
That meant that even phrases such as "Car X has low
emissions of carbon dioxide," the main greenhouse gas released
by burning oil, should be avoided.
The watchdog argued that mentioning carbon dioxide alone
could mislead buyers into believing that the car also had low
emissions of toxic nitrous oxide or other polluting particles.
Transport, mainly trucks and cars, accounts for about a
fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions from human sources,
widely blamed for stoking a warming that could bring more
floods, desertification, heatwaves and rising seas.