Greenpeace activists scale Cannes Lions venue calling for fossil fuel ad ban

Climbing action during the Cannes Lions
Following 3 days of actions during the advertising festival Cannes Lions, Greenpeace activist displayed their message "fossil ads are burning the planet" directly on the Palais. Facing the banner, a fire truck symbolized the climate emergency. And up the ladder, dogs from the "This is fine" meme, highlight the denial of advertising agencies in the face of the climate emergency. Throughout the entirety of the festival, Greenpeace has been campaigning for a ban on fossil fuel advertising, partnerships and sponsorships in Europe. Greenpeace along with over 35 organisations are pushing a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) petition, calling for a new law that bans fossil fuel advertising and sponsorship in the EU.

Greenpeace France activists have scaled the venue of one of the world’s biggest advertising events in the world, the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, to call on a fossil ads and sponsorship ban and to ask advertising firms to cut ties with the fossil fuel industry. 

Greenpeace Cannes Lions action

The climbers arrived on board a fire truck to highlight that burning fossil fuel is causing catastrophic global heating, as parts of Europe have reached record temperatures this week. 

The peaceful protest comes as 40 organisations are pushing a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) petition, calling for a new law that bans fossil fuel advertising and sponsorship in the EU.

Greenpeace Climbing action during the Cannes Lions
Following 3 days of actions during the advertising festival Cannes Lions, Greenpeace activist displayed their message “fossil ads are burning the planet” directly on the Palais.

This morning at the Palais des Festivals, the climbers hung a banner that read “Fossil ads are burning the planet”. 

Some were dressed as the viral “This is fine” dog meme, usually used to convey a sense of denial in a dramatic situation, such as the climate crisis.

Environmental campaigners are calling on ad and PR agencies to stop working with companies whose actions are driving extreme weather, community displacements and international conflict. 

Since the Paris Agreement at least 300 awards have been given out in Cannes Lions to advertising for more air travel, to oil companies that greenwash and to ads that promote climate wrecking products.

Climate change is one of the topics under discussion among those attending this year’s Cannes Lions gathering. 

Outside the venue, Greenpeace European Unit Campaigner Silvia Pastorelli said: “The fossil fuel industry uses advertising and sponsorship to clean up its image, delay climate action and secure political access. 

Greenpeace Climbing action during the Cannes Lions
Peaceful protest: Cannes Lions interrupted by Greenpeace call for ban on fossil fuel ads.

“When we see glossy billboards of the latest electric cars, what we don’t see is an industry that is only interested in expanding and continuing to drill for oil, until the last drop is out, until we don’t have a planet where to be creative.”

This year for the first time, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report exposed the role of PR and advertising in fuelling the climate crisis, while hundreds of scientists signed a letter calling on public relations and advertising agencies to stop working with fossil fuel companies and spreading climate disinformation.[3][4]

“Europe is buzzing with how to increase oil and fossil gas production while the ground is literally burning under our feet”, Pastorelli said. 

“Advertising is helping the fossil fuel industry define our present and our future. Their business is to keep us hooked on fossil fuels and to block the action that we urgently needed for a green and just transition. With this European Citizens’ Initiative we can shape the law and take the microphone away from climate criminals”.

If an ECI reaches one million verified signatures in a year, the European Commission is legally obliged to respond and consider implementing the demands into European law.[4]

On Monday, a Greenpeace France activist and former winner and jury of the festival, interrupted the opening ceremony to return a Lion prize he won for working for a car company and to call out advertising agencies gathered in the event for being complicit in spreading disinformation around the climate catastrophe and promoting their polluting products.