Fossil Fuel Advertising in the City

Decision Maker: Council

Decision status: Recommendations Determined


Moved by Councillor Scully, seconded by Councillor Ellsmore –

It is resolved that:

(A)      Council note that:

(i)         in 1992, Australia passed national laws that banned advertising of tobacco products because smoking was harmful to the health of people. Advertising these products was linked to an increase in tobacco use.  Because of this, Council restricts the advertising of tobacco and other harmful products on Council controlled land and events;

(ii)        coal, oil and gas are affecting our health, environment and climate. Air pollution from burning fossil fuels takes 8.7 million lives prematurely each year – more than tobacco. An estimated 150,000 people are dying due to climate change impacts every year;

(iii)      the launch of the ‘Fossil Ad Ban’ community campaign, calls for a tobacco-style bans on advertisements and sponsorships for fossil fuels including coal, oil and gas;

(iv)      fossil fuels are the primary cause of global warming, which is impacting our City and Greater Sydney in the form of more intense and frequent heatwaves, storms, bushfires, floods and droughts;

(v)       we are facing a climate emergency and we are aiming to reach net zero by 2035. The City of Sydney endorsed a declaration of climate emergency in June 2019, firmly stating that the people of Sydney are at risk of climate change. Advertising fossil fuels on Council property or facilities is inconsistent with this adopted Council position;

(vi)      restrictions on fossil fuel advertising are in place in France, and at least seven local government areas in the UK and the Netherlands. Similar laws are being debated in the European Union, Germany, Sweden and Canada;

(vii)     an open letter from health professionals and organisations across Australia are calling on councils and other Australian lawmakers to end promotions for coal, oil and gas, on the basis that these fossil fuels are damaging for our health, environment and the climate;

(viii)    the Federal Government has a responsibility to implement restrictions on fossil fuel advertising through national laws, like what was done for tobacco advertising which saw a proven reduction in tobacco consumption per capita, therefore reducing the health burden of tobacco use. A result highly favoured by the Federal Government;

(ix)      Victoria’s Yarra and Moreland (Merri-bek) councils have voted for a staff report on how to restrict fossil fuel promotions on council-managed land; and

(x)       the City of Sydney commits to work to support the community campaign for a ban on advertising by companies involved in the production or supply of fossil fuels, including at Council sponsored events and on council-managed property; and

(B)      the Lord Mayor be requested to:

(i)         write to the Federal Minister for Communications, The Hon Michelle Rowland MP, to ask the Federal Government to pass national laws that restrict fossil fuel advertising; and

(ii)        write to the Minister for Digital Government and Minister for Customer Service, Victor Dominello requesting the NSW Government impose restrictions on fossil fuel advertising; and

(C)      the Chief Executive Officer be requested to:

(i)         investigate bringing forward the City’s net zero target in the City of Sydney’s Strategic Plan in light of the change of Federal Government;

(i)         investigate implementing restrictions on advertising for fossil fuels for any Council controlled signage or property, as well as a ban on accepting sponsorships from companies whose main business is the extraction or sale of coal, oil or gas;

(ii)        work with other councils, Local Government NSW and the Australian Local Government Association to encourage a consistent approach across local government to fossil fuel advertising; and

(iii)      ask City staff to undertake a review of City policies or strategies that may allow for the promotion of fossil fuels.

The amended motion was carried on the following show of hands:

Ayes (7)          The Chair (the Lord Mayor), Councillors Chan, Davis, Ellsmore, Kok, Scott and Scully

Noes (3)          Councillors Gannon*, Jarrett and Weldon.

*Note – Councillor Gannon abstained from voting on this matter. Pursuant to the provisions of clause 10.4 of the Code of Meeting Practice, Councillor Gannon is taken to have voted against the motion.

Amended motion carried.


Report author: Erin Cashman

Publication date: 22/08/2022

Date of decision: 22/08/2022

Decided at meeting: 22/08/2022 - Council

Accompanying Documents: