Greenpeace Shutdown: Ad Claiming Fracking Won’t Cut Energy Bills Banned by Watchdog

AP Photo
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

A Greenpeace ad claiming that fracking will not cut energy bills in the UK has been banned after the Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) ruled the group could not back up its claim.

The group claimed: “Experts agree – it won’t cut our energy bills”, while also saying fracking would threaten the environment and water supply.

However, pro-fracking Labour peer Lord Lipsey complained, saying it was misleading to claim as fact that new sources of gas would not lead to a reduction in fuel prices.

The Daily Mail reports the ASA agreed and has now banned Greenpeace from making the claim on future literature.

Greenpeace had produced quotes from 22 individuals, some of them academics, to support its claim that energy would not become cheaper. They also quoted Liberal Democrat energy secretary Ed Davey, who dismissed claims fracking would transform the economy as “ridiculous”.

However, the ASA said it was wrong to quote this as fact since there was disagreement on the issue. It pointed to comments from Prime Minister David Cameron, who said in 2013: “If we don’t back this technology, we will miss a massive opportunity to help families with their bills … fracking has real potential to drive energy bills down.”

The ASA said: “While we acknowledged that Greenpeace had provided quotes from 22 people, groups or organisations, demonstrating support for the view that fracking would not reduce energy prices, we understood that there was a significant division of informed opinion on the issue.

“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. Because of that, we concluded that the ad was misleading.”

Greenpeace have not only criticised the decision but also accused the ASA of having vested interests in fracking. It said ASA chairman Chris Smith has a second job as head of the Shale Task Force, which is funded by fracking firms such as Centrica, Cuadrilla and Total. Meanwhile Lord Lipsey, the complainant, sits on the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, which last year published a report calling for fracking in the UK.

Greenpeace’s Louise Hutchins said: “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.

“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.”