New law to force French car adverts to include green travel message

A new law will force car advertisements in France to carry messages that encourage more eco-friendly forms of transport such as cycling and public transport.

Traffic outside the French city of Lille spews pollution into the air.
Traffic outside the French city of Lille spews pollution into the air. Car adverts are to be required to show adverts encouraging people to use more ecological modes of transport. (Photo by Philippe HUGUEN / AFP)

Many products in France are required to carry warnings: “Smoking kills”; “Avoid eating too much fat”; “Abuse of Alcohol is dangerous for your health”. 

From March 2022, a new law will force the advertisers for automobile industry to do the same. 

All car adverts will need to contain one of the following messages:

Pour les trajets courts, privilégiez la marche ou le vélo – For short journeys, prioritise walking or cycling

Pensez à covoiturer – Think about lift sharing 

Au quotidien, prenez les transports en commun – On a day-to-day basis, take public transport 

The messages must be clearly visible/audible and advertisers face a €50,000 fine should they fail to comply with the new rules.  They must also mention the hashtag  #SeDéplacerMoinsPolluer – which encourages people to choose less polluting forms of transport. 

Car manufacturers and advertisers will also have to mention which emissions class the advertised vehicle falls into. This is a new ranking system to inform consumers about the environmental impact that is part of a widespread climate action law approved by lawmakers in July.

Environmental campaigners had been calling for a ban on advertising for all cars (like that imposed on the tobacco industry), which represent a significant portion of emissions within the transport sector as a whole. 

As it stands, adverts for the most polluting vehicles (those that produce 123g of CO2/km) will be banned from 2028. The EU commission wants to phase out all combustion engines by 2035. 

Behind supermarkets, the automobile sector is the second largest advertiser in France. The WWF estimates that 42 percent of all automobile advertisement spending in France is used to promote SUVs – among the most polluting vehicles of all. 

Automobile industry figures have hit back against the new regulations. 

“It stigmatises drivers,” said Lionel French Keogh, the CEO of Hyundai in France. 

“It is the first time that we have had such a direct message from the government. But if I am doing a short journey and have to go along a main road, I will do so neither on foot nor by bicycle,” he told AFP.

 “It means that overall, we have to find alternatives to the automobile… We are going to adapt — moving toward zero-emission vehicles is the course of history,” he said.

 “But there is an irony: they make no distinction between the type of motorisation. It’s a bit counterproductive to the government’s aim of promoting electric vehicles,” he added.

Volkswagen, the third-biggest car seller in France, after Stellantis and Renault, said “We will comply with the legislation and analyse how best to comply with our advertising agency.”

The decision not to ban automobile adverts altogether has saved billions of euros worth of advertising revenue for media organisations in France. 

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Moules-frites in danger: Spider crabs wreak havoc on French mussel population

Warming sea temperatures are bringing more spider crabs to France's coastline, which could spell disaster for the French mussel industry.

Moules-frites in danger: Spider crabs wreak havoc on French mussel population

You may not be able to see it from land, but underwater, an invasive species of spider crabs are ravaging the mussel population on the Western coast of France.

In Normandy and Brittany, mussel farmers are struggling to control the expanding spider crab population – which normally migrates onward, but has stayed put on France’s coasts.

Experts believe the crabs, who feast on mussels and all manner of shellfish, have not continued in their migration due to warming water temperatures, as a result of the climate crisis.

This has left French mussel farmers worried that if the crab population is not controlled, then mussel production could end in the region within a decade. 

Some mussel farmers, like David Dubosco, have lost a significant amount of mussels in just the last year. Dubosco told TF1 that in 2022 he lost at least 150 tonnes.

(You can listen to The Local France team discuss the future of moules-frites in our new podcast episode below. Just press play or download it here for later.)

Dubosco is not alone in his experience. According to reporting by TF1, production across the board will be lower this year 2022, which means that the number of mussels imported from other countries will likely increase, a decision that will not be popular with French consumers who prefer homegrown mussels to make the classic moules-frites.

The proliferation of the spider crabs has been an ongoing problem for the last six years, but due to warming waters, more and more have stayed in French waters.

The crabs do not have many predators besides humans – as they are edible, but the supply has begun to outweigh demand. Additionally, the crabs have grown so big that traditional cages used to trap them are no longer effective, according to Actu France.

On September 21st, over 80 mussel producers staged a demonstration in front of the Manche préfecture in Saint-Lô to demand further measures against this invasive species.

“We have seen the proliferation of spider crabs and our alerts have gone unheeded by the administrative authorities. The species comes to feed on our stocks,” said Vincent Godefroy, head of the “Group of mussel farmers on bouchot” (Groupement des mytiliculteurs sur bouchot) to Actu France. 

In response, the Manche prefecture met with six representatives from the group, eventually publishing a a statement saying it would allow “for the experimentation of new measures” to combat the crabs, which would include dragging them out to sea.

Additionally, government actors and mussel farmers will work together this autumn to conduct a study on the economic value of spider crabs with goals of building up a new industry. The assessment will be made in November.