On 7 June 2023, the UK Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA“) – the UK’s independent advertising regulator – banned a series of advertisements from a number of large oil and gas companies for including misleading information about their socio-environmental credentials. These landmark rulings, which mark the latest step in the ASA’s fight against greenwashing, are expected to set a precedent for how companies advertise their socio-environmental credentials in the future. More broadly, the increased regulatory scrutiny will likely feed into the expected rise in ESG-related litigation.
This move from the ASA mirrors similar moves by regulators and law-makers both in the UK and in other jurisdictions. The UK Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) has, for example, commenced investigations into the accuracy of environmental claims made by businesses in the fast-moving consumer goods sector (for further information on the CMA’s investigation, read our earlier blog post here). The US Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission have also taken steps to tighten regulation addressing greenwashing in marketing materials (for further information on these initiatives, read our earlier blog posts here and here).