In the UK, an Oxfam poster stated, “People dying thanks to climate change is a long way off. About 5,000 miles, give or take... Our politicians have the power to help get a climate deal back on track... Let’s sort it here and now”.
Viewers complained to the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) that the claim that people were dying as a result of climate change was misleading and could not be substantiated. Oxfam stated that the advert was supported by research from reputable organisations such as the World Health Organisation, which showed that people had died, and were dying, as a result of climate change. Oxfam also said that in its own experience, climate change, manifesting as trends of increased temperature, disruptive seasons, floods and droughts, created health hazards for vulnerable populations in the countries in which it operated. Dismissing the complaints, the ASA stated that as there is evidence of a consensus amongst climate scientists that climate change is now resulting in people dying, and because Oxfam’s use of the claim was “reasonably restrained” and did not claim specific numbers of deaths or speculate on future numbers, the advert should not be banned.
Moral: Ensure that bold or sensitive claims are supported by robust evidence.
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