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Shell Wins Emissions Reduction Advertising Battle

December 15, 2011

The U.K.’s advertising watchdog has ruled in favor of oil giant Shell over claims it made in a magazine advert that its biofuels reduced CO2 emissions.

Nonprofit ActionAid UK had challenged that the advert, which called the fuels “one of the most effective ways of reducing CO2 from cars and trucks today,” was misleading. ActionAid said that evidence showed that biofuels did not reduce CO2 emissions from vehicles when the full life-cycle of the fuel was taken into account.

But the ASA ruled in favor of Shell yesterday stating that the company had provided data for biofuels manufactured in the U.S. and Brazil for distribution in the U.S. and Europe and that that data had shown that its biofuel did indeed have the capability to reduce CO2 emissions compared to that of petrol over its life-cycle.

Shell has been accused of overplaying its environmental credentials in advertising before. In 2009, Greenpeace took issue with an advert that it claimed suggested that more of Shell’s revenue was derived from renewable sources than was true.

In 2007, Friends of the Earth Europe filed simultaneous complaints to the national advertising standards authorities of Belgium, the Netherlands, and the U.K. about a Shell advertisement depicting the outline of an oil refinery emitting flowers rather than smoke.

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