A Greenpeace anti-fracking advert has been banned in the UK by the Advertising Standards Authority because it claimed that there is a consensus among experts that shale exploration will not lower energy bills.
The advert was contested by Labour peer Lord Lipsey, who claimed that the advert is misleading in asserting that the argument on fracking and energy bills is settled. The ASA challenged Greenpeace to provide proof of the claim. In response the organisation sent 22 quotes from experts, including leading climate change economist Nicholas Stern, UK secretary of state for energy Ed Davey, director of the UK Energy Research Centre professor Jim Watson and three representatives from the fracking industry – including John Browne, the former chairman of shale gas company Cuadrilla.
However, it has also quoted Prime Minister David Cameron, who has said fracking will reduce energy prices.
As a result, the watchdog ruled that there clearly was no agreement among parties as to the impact on energy bills that the Greenpeace advert suggested.
“While we understood the claim was made in the context of a public debate on fracking, we considered the claim was absolute in nature and, therefore, implied the statement was accepted among informed opinion, which we understood was not the case,” the ASA said. “Because of that, we concluded that the ad was misleading.”
The ruling means that the advert must not appear in its current form.
In response, Greenpeace questioned the impartiality of the ruling authority chaired by Lord Chris Smith, who is also head of the Shale Task Force, funded by fracking firms including Cuadrilla, Centrica and Total.
“An authority led by a fracking advocate has ruled in favour of a pro-fracking Lord merely on the basis of the opinion of an avowedly pro-fracking prime minister,” said Louise Hutchins, Greenpeace energy and climate campaigner.
“This decision is baseless, biased, and frankly bonkers. We quoted 22 different expert opinions to back up our statement that fracking won’t bring down bills. The ASA could only find shale enthusiast David Cameron to defend the opposite view.”
The spokeswoman for the ASA defended the objectivity of the decision and said Lord Smith had recused himself from the proceedings.
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