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Complaint against British Gas leaflet
On 12th December 1998 I wrote to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to complain about a booklet which had been put through my door. The text of my letter was as follows:
Dear Sir or Madam,
I wish to draw your attention to inaccurate claims made in a colour booklet which I have received from British Gas, which I enclose. The booklet claims on its second inside page that LP (liquid petroleum) gas is environmentally friendly and clean, and on the sixth inside page that it is “Green and clean”.
LP gas is a fossil fuel. When it is burned it releases almost 3 tonnes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide per tonne of fuel. It also produces sulphur dioxide, a cause of acid rain, and oxides of nitrogen. These include nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide, which are involved in the production of tropospheric ozone (a major component of photochemical smogs which cause serious, sometimes fatal, breathing problems) and nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas.
Being a petroleum derivative, the initial extraction of the petroleum used to make LP gas involves considerable environmental damage, including the release to the atmosphere of methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
Yes, LP gas is “cleaner” than coal or oil, but to claim that it is clean, green or environmentally friendly is equivalent to saying that a 5' 11'' man is short because he is not as tall as one who is 6' 2'', or that a deerhound is a small dog because it is not as large as a wolfhound. It is inaccurate, misleading, and in my opinion dishonest. Many people will take it at face value.
The ASA upheld my complaint. The adjudication is below.
I think that two main lessons can be learned from this successful outcome:
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