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Activists groups in 37 towns and cities from 7 countries in Europe and beyond took part in a week of action to demand a ban on airline advertising and sponsorships from 15 – 22 April 2024.

Subvertising teams from the Brandalism and Extinction Rebellion networks in cities such as Lisbon, Berlin, Paris, London and Bristol replaced commercial billboard and bus stop adverts with their own posters critiquing the continued advertising for airports and flights.

The problem with aviation advertising

Airline advertising and sponsorship of sports and culture promotes an increased use of air travel without reference to its significant climate impacts. Airline marketing normalises frequent flying with a superficial glamour that encourages expansion an industry which has no credible plans to decarbonise. New research, released by Badvertising, shows that every €1 spent on advertising and sponsorship by Air France, British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, RyanAir and Qantas leads to an associated increase in greenhouse gas emissions of between 35-60 kg CO2e.

In the same way that we baned tobacco advertising when we realised the health implications of smoking, in the middle of a climate crisis we need an urgent ban on advertising for polluting products This demand – to end airline advertising – was the central ask of those taking part in the action week with groups targeting local councils and regulatory authorities across different countries to demand an end to the damaging adverts which prop up this polluting industry. In 2024, city councils such Edinburgh and Sheffield in the UK implemented these bans.

Above: Activists in Lyon show their support for Easyjet subverts, April 2024
Above: a subvertised British Airways advert in Bristol, England
Above: a poster installation at Berlin Airport (Translation: “Stop ads for bullshit flights”)
Above: Activists in the Enschede, Netherlands replaced commercial ads with their own artworks. (Translation: Stop adverts flying us into climate crisis)
Above: Complaints were submitted to the UK advertising regulator regarding a London Luton Airport advert pictured above.

Complaints submitted to UK ad regulator over ‘environmental limits’ claim

Ads from Luton airport seen on the London Tube network in March and April 2024 promote the airport’s expansion from 18 million to 32 million passengers per year. The ads suggest the expansion will respect “environmental limits” set in the airport’s Green Controlled Growth Framework – but this Framework does not include emissions from flights, which make up more than 80% of the airport’s current climate impacts.

The UK government and planning authorities were due to make a decision on Luton Airport’s expansion in the following months. Given that the airport adverts were intended to influence the outcome of that decision, organisations including Adfree Cities, Badvertising, Stay Grounded and climate charity Possible reported the ads to the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and asked that they suspend the adverts pending investigation.

Above: Activist group Climaximo released a statement to the media about the hacked billboards in Lisbon. Translation: More airports: destination climate collapse)

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