London’s public transport network featured hundreds of fossil fuel campaigns over six years

BP emerged as the top fossil fuel advertiser on the TfL network.

This is according to research conducted by DeSmog using freedom of information (FOI) requests.

According to the analysis, BP emerged as the top fossil fuel advertiser on the TfL network since London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan committed to eliminating the city’s net carbon emissions by 2050, a target later revised to 2030.

In the 2019-2020 fiscal year alone, BP placed approximately 168 campaigns. Other prominent fossil fuel advertisers include Shell and the lobby group Offshore Energies UK (formerly Oil & Gas UK), which requested to place politically charged advertisements at Westminster and St. James’s Park tube stations, close to the UK’s Houses of Parliament.

Norwegian oil giant Equinor launched 14 campaigns, with three appearing in the 2022-2023 fiscal year while the UK Government deliberated the approval of its North Sea oilfield, Rosebank.

Since April 2022, the Canadian Energy Centre, a fossil fuel lobby group, has also run two campaigns on the TfL network.

When including energy suppliers that still utilise fossil fuels, such as E.ON, British Gas, and Scottish and Southern Energy, the number of campaigns rises to 1,275.

As per the analysis, each campaign often comprises multiple posters displayed across various stations, though data for the exact number of individual posters is not available.

While oil and gas companies claim that they are transitioning to greener energy, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that the oil industry invested only 2.5% of its capital expenditure in clean energy in 2022, with the vast majority still directed towards oil and gas projects.

Green Party member Sian Berry said: There’s no doubt that advertising has an impact on people’s behaviour, on the image of companies, and has the ability to directly affect decision makers like me.

“All of these things are harmful and will undermine TfL’s climate goals.”

TfL launched a Corporate Environment Plan aligned with carbon neutrality by 2030 in 2021. The focus so far has been on cutting operational emissions through interventions like energy-efficient lighting, solar panels and low-carbon heating systems at stations.

Pushback on fossil fuel advertising

In the past year, the UK Advertising Standards Authority has banned several ads from oil and gas companies, including Shell and Equinor, for making misleading green claims.

Last year, US-based Vox Media cemented its ban on advertisements from fossil fuel companies as part of its sustainability strategy.

Moreover, more than 500 organisations and individuals across the advertising and PR industry have signed up to a pledge to not work with fossil fuel companies on issues like communications and recruitment.

Related news: Edinburgh set to ban adverts for high-carbon products including fossil fuels

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie

Subscribe