Fossil fuel ads could be banned by City of Sydney council

Fossil fuel ads could be banned by City of Sydney council
Image: Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore (left) and Deputy Lord Mayor Jess Cully (right) joined together to bring forth the motion to the council. Photo: various


The City of Sydney will possibly be the first Australian jurisdiction to ban fossil-fuel advertising on properties and infrastructure belonging to the council, stating its damaging effects on health, environment, and climate.

Banning ads that promote oil, coal, and gas from over a hundred buildings and public spaces in Sydney is something that Deputy Lord Mayor Jess Scully believes is needed, as she told the ABC that the ads have contributed to Australia’s lack of climate action.

“This is about drawing a line in the sand, saying no more, we see through this whitewashing, we see through the marketing spin,” Cr Scully told the ABC.

“Air pollution from burning fossil fuels takes 8.7 million lives prematurely each year, worse than tobacco.”

The motion is a joint effort by Scully and Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore after the pair decided to create a joint motion, rather than two separate motions.

The motion looks at the national laws passed by 1992 that saw a ban on advertising of tobacco products as smoking is harmful to people’s health, and advertising was linked to an increase in tobacco use, and points at a similar situation with the lack of climate action.

“Fossil fuel corporations are trying to clean their image just the same as cigarette companies did a few decades ago. It is estimated that the top 5 fossil fuel corporations spent more than $238 million on marketing in 2020/21,” Cr Ellsmore told City Hub.

“We shouldn’t be promoting polluting industries on our streets, and we shouldn’t enable ‘greenwashing’ in our Council-controlled spaces.”

However, some on the council don’t agree with the motion, with Liberal Councillors Lyndon Gannon and Shauna Jarrett seeing it as only symbolic and not actual action.

“Instead of providing symbolic actions on climate change, the City of Sydney should be taking decisive action to support the City’s commitment to a greener Sydney such as the Lord Mayor committing to the NSW Government’s E-Scooter Trial which will have a practical effect of reducing fossil fuels and increasing the use of alternative greener forms of transportation,” Cr Jarrett told City Hub.

“It’s all a bit ridiculous, the Council won’t participate in an e-scooter trial intended to speed up the adoption of e-vehicles so we can get cars and buses off the road quicker, yet they’ll happily ban advertising that will have nil effect on speeding up our transition to net zero,” Cr Gannon said to City Hub.

He said the only advertisements from energy providers and producers he sees are their declaration to “transitioning to net zero.” He also says that the council needs to “get back to the basics.”

“Our waste management is in a mess, the streets are filthy, and businesses are crying out for help,” he said.

Council’s Net-Zero Control Plan Passed

What is a first for an Australian local council, the City of Sydney’s net zero energy development proposal has passed unanimously in tonight’s council meeting. This will mean development applications for new office buildings, shopping centres and hotels, along with other major redevelopment plans of existing buildings will have to comply with minimum energy ratings.

The new regulations will come into effect in January 2023, with the projected goal of net-zero energy output by 2026. The Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney, Clover Moore was thrilled with the outcome.

“In an Australian-first, the City will incorporate energy efficiency and renewable energy targets in development applications–ensuring buildings are part of the transition to net-zero emissions,” Moore announced on Twitter.

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