A curious article from January 3 edition of The Times was passed on to me as I returned from my Christmas holidays. The piece detailed a new law in France, where car advertisements will be forced to carry environmental warnings, ‘advising potential customers to consider cycling, walking, public transport or ride-sharing instead.’

According to the article, the new law is something of a compromise. Initially, French president Emmanuel Macron had planned to ban all advertisements for vehicles emitting more than 123 grams of CO2 per kilometre. However, pressure from French car manufacturers and the media platforms where they advertise their products saw the proposals softened.

An eco-tax on heavy cars emitting high levels of greenhouse gas has also risen to €40,000, from €30,000, and will increase again to €50,000 in 2023.

Some have criticised the advertising regulations as being counter-productive as they will apply to electric vehicles too, though the quote in the article from a car industry spokesman chose to ignore the mention of public transport and ride sharing in the new warnings. “If I do a short journey that involved [a dual carriageway], I would not use a bicycle or go on foot,” said Lionel French Keogh, president of Hyundai France. I wonder what’s stopping him from using a bus in that circumstance?

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