City of Fremantle plans to limit fossil fuel advertising on council buildings and properties

Several Fremantle city councilors have thrown their support behind a proposal to investigate the removal of council buildings and events promoting fossil fuels.

At a meeting last night a motion was put forward calling on the Chief Executive to seek ways to control or restrict the advertising and sponsorships of companies whose main business is the extraction or sale of coal, oil and gas.

Advisors to the Finance, Policy, Operations and Legislation Committee voted in favor of the motion, six to one.

An official position will be taken when the full council meets later this month. With a majority of councilors already indicating their support, the motion is likely to pass.

Councilor Adin Lang, who presented the proposal, said he thought it was an important step for the city to take as part of its commitment to fight climate change.

“While this action by itself does not stop climate change, it is about transitioning away from fossil fuels,” he said.

Adin Lang wants the council to explore what restricting fossil fuel ads would look like.(ABC News: Claire Moodie)

“Allowing fossil fuel companies to advertise, promote themselves, launder, or buy social license in our community makes it harder to transition to fossil fuels.”

He said while the motion did not mean the city would implement a ban, researching what the restrictions might look like was a crucial first step, and something no other council in WA had done.

“Rather than jumping straight into a ban, we want to know what we will ban and the consequences,” he said.

Fine details to refine

Mr. Lang said there were a lot of details they needed to work out in the report, including what it would mean for third-party groups that used council property.

“At this time, the goal is to restrict fossil fuel advertising on municipal land and property,” he said.

“This could potentially prevent events sponsored by fossil fuel companies from happening.

“A challenge may be that if fossil fuel companies cannot sponsor events or grassroots community groups, is there a funding gap that cannot be filled?”

He said they should also determine which ads and companies fall under the criteria.

“I don’t know where we’re going to draw the line yet,” he said.

“And if an organization is an energy provider and they’re involved in renewables and fossil fuels, that’s something we would definitely need to sort out.”

According to CSIRO, around 90% of global carbon emissions come from burning fossil fuels, and most of Australia’s emissions also come from energy production, followed by transport, agriculture and industrial processes. .

Sports and cultural organizations in view

Any move to enforce a ban could restrict advertising by fossil fuel company Woodside Energy, the main sponsor of the Fremantle Dockers, to Fremantle Oval.

It could also have impacts on sports groups that operate in the area, such as Surf Life Saving WA’s clamp program which is also supported by Woodside.

During the meeting, a resident of White Gum Valley raised concerns about the impacts clubs such as the Fremantle Surf Club could have if their sponsorship fell within the ban criteria.

He also questioned whether a ban could be considered hypocritical, given the amount of fossil fuel-based transportation the city operated.

If passed at the council meeting, the City of Fremantle will join other jurisdictions such as the City of Sydney and Melbourne’s Yarra and Moreland, which have taken similar action.

Overseas, restrictions on fossil fuel advertising are in place in France, as well as in several government areas in the UK and the Netherlands.

Mr. Lang said examples of the promotion of fossil fuels could be seen across the city.

“If you look at bus stops around Fremantle there might be advertisements promoting petrol options. If you look at Fremantle Oval you might see other billboards advertised by fossil fuel companies “, did he declare.

The move comes as a campaign to ban fossil fuel ads and sponsorships grows, led by a group of marketing, public relations and advertising specialists known as CommsDeclare.

Large building in Woodside with an Aboriginal, WA and Australian flag in the foreground.
Woodside, a major sponsor of the Fremantle Dockers, is headquartered in Perth’s CBD.(ABC News: Keane Bourke)

Last week, the Perth festival announced it would be parting ways with long-time main sponsor Chevron Australia to focus on other sponsorship opportunities.

Restrictions send ‘important message’

Angie Silva, professor of marketing and sustainability at Curtin University, said bans on the promotion of fossil fuels were used as a way for organizations or councils to send a message about their values.

“If you look at council-owned assets, they represent the voice of a collective general public or residents of this area,” she said.

“And it sends an important message that the use of public assets to publicize fossil fuel companies is not aligned with [community] opinion.”

Dr Silva said the sentiment was similar to that underpinning restrictions on tobacco and alcohol advertising.

“It’s basically saying that scientific evidence shows that fossil fuels have a negative impact on society at large, and therefore why should they be widely promoted, especially using physical assets that belong to the community. “, said Dr. Silva.

The next board meeting will be October 26, where the full board will formally vote on the motion.

Marjorie N. McClure