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Ad Standards has rejected a third complaint from Comms Declare about the federal government’s Positive Energy campaign.

Our complaint stated that the claims that Australia’s emissions had dropped by 20% was based on cherry-picked data and not a real representation of emissions. It also stated that there was no solid plan behind the claim that Australia would be net zero by 2050.

Greenhouse gas emission reductions (excluding land use), 2005 levels compared to 2019 levels. Data source: Gütschow et al 2021.

Ad Standards found the 20% emissions reduction claim was valid because it used government data. It also found that the campaign’s audience ‘would be aware of the potential contestability of claims of this kind‘ as a reason to find that the Environmental Claims Code had not been breached.

Ad Standards, without consulting independent, expert opinion, also found that the government’s plan to reach net zero by 2050 was made on ‘adequate grounds’. This is despite the emissions reduction plan being produced by the same department who commissioned the advertising and that the plan does not include a method of reducing the final 15% of emissions.

This ruling shows why the Environmental Claims Code must be strengthened. Claims must be tested by experts, not a panel that uses a lack of faith in advertising as an excuse to not sanction the very ads that produce that lack of faith.