A new campaign called “Badvertising” calls for an immediate end to advertising for large polluting cars.
He says the government should crack down on sports utility vehicle (SUV) ads the way it has curbed smoking ads.
An auto industry spokesperson said modern SUVs are the cleanest in history and many can run on batteries.
But a leading scholar has said sales of polluting large cars will violate UK climate targets and should be banned.
A government spokesperson said: “We are developing an ambitious transport decarbonisation plan to reach our goal of net zero by 2050.
“We have also provided consumers with incentives and widely disseminated information to help them make their choices when purchasing a vehicle. ”
SUVs now account for more than 4 in 10 new cars sold in the UK, while fully electric vehicles account for less than two in 100.
The report from green think tank The New Weather Institute and Climate Charity Possible says the big car trend is being propelled by aggressive advertising.
They fear that the global trend of rapidly increasing sales of larger, more polluting SUVs could jeopardize climate goals.
The authors of the report stress that even electric motors will not solve all SUVs problems.
Indeed, they will always pollute the air through particles that rub off the brakes and tires, and will use carbon-emitting resources to manufacture their heavy batteries.
In urban areas, large SUVs are a particular nuisance, they say. Their report found that 150,000 new cars on the road are too big for a standard street parking space in the UK.
She comes as local authorities work to create space on the roads for walkers and cyclists.
The authors want to ban the advertising of cars with average emissions above 160 g of CO2 / km and those exceeding 4.8 m in length.
Andrew Simms, an author, said: “We ended tobacco advertising when we understood the threat of smoking to public health.
“Now that we know the damage to human health and the climate caused by automobile pollution, it is time to stop the ads that make the problem worse.
“There are advertisements, and then there are badverts, promoting the bigger, lower-emitting SUVs, it’s like increasing pollution, and we have to stop. “
But Mike Hawes, of the industry’s trade body, the Society of Manufacturers and Traders, told the BBC: “SUVs are an increasingly popular choice.
“To single out a particular body type (like SUVs) is to ignore the huge advancements in emissions and powertrain technology made with each new model.
“Today’s vehicles of all types are the cleanest in history, with average CO2 emissions from dual-use cars more than 43% lower than they were 20 years ago.
But the Local Government Association, which represents local councils, is worried about the trend towards larger vehicles.
A spokesperson told the BBC: “Making parking spaces bigger would mean fewer spaces. Motorists should pay more for parking and wait longer for a space. ”
Would an advertising ban work, however? Steve Gooding, of the RAC Foundation, said: “People who spend £ 70,000 on a new car are probably not much influenced by the ads – they are drawn to the prestige brand. I guess banning ads wouldn’t make a big difference. ”
Moreover, the report comes at a difficult time for the UK auto industry, which is on its knees in the face of the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
But Professor Jillian Anable, of the University of Leeds’ Transport Studies Unit, said the government needs to have the big picture on cars – and consider banning polluting large models altogether.
“(Given our CO2 targets), there is a clear trade-off: the more we can reduce the size and weight of the cars we drive, the less we will have to restrict their driving.
“We should consider not allowing the sale of big polluting cars on the UK market at all. ”
She added: “Our research shows that an approach in which the most polluting cars are phased out from now on over the next 10 to 15 years will be more effective than the ‘cliff’ target date proposed by the government in ‘future where gasoline and diesel cars are suddenly no longer allowed to be sold. ”
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