As part of the government’s drive to reduce CO2 emissions, car advertisements in France will now have to include messages encouraging people to consider less-polluting travel alternatives. This new requirement is set to come into force in March, and was confirmed in the government’s Official Journal this week.
This comes after years of lobbying from environmental groups, many of which seek an outright ban on automobile ads.
Under the new law, car commercials aired in France will be required to include one of the following phrases in their ad copy: “For short journeys, walk or cycle,” “Think about carpooling,” and “On a daily basis, take public transport.”
These phrases will be required for all media including print, TV, radio or internet along with the hashtag “#SeDeplacerMoinsPolluer” (Move and Pollute Less).
While car companies seem ready to follow the new rules, some have criticised Emmanuel Macron’s government for this change.
Speaking to AFP, Lionel French Keogh, the head of Hyundai France said: “It means that overall, we have to find alternatives to the automobile. It’s the first time we’ve had such a direct message from the government.
“We are going to adapt — moving toward zero-emission vehicles is the course of history.
“But there is an irony: they make no distinction between the type of motorisation. It’s a bit counterproductive to the government’s aim of promoting electric vehicles.”
Volkswagen, which is the third-biggest car seller in France, after Stellantis and Renault, said, “We will comply with the legislation and analyse how best to comply with our advertising agency.”
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The regulation states that the messages should be presented in an “easily readable or audible manner” and that they be made “clearly distinguishable from the advertising message and from any other obligatory mention.”
Companies that fail to meet such requirements will be forced to pay hefty fine fines of around €50,000 (nearly £42,000).
Barbara Pompili, France’s Minister of Ecological Transition tweeted: “Decarbonizing transport is not just switching to an electric motor. It also means using, when possible, public transport or cycling.”
In France, transportation is the biggest source of carbon emissions, as the country already has a relatively fossil fuel-free energy system.