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Toyota SUV adverts banned in the UK for promoting environmentally damaging driving; Paris to hike fees for heavy cars.

In a decisive move, the UK advertising watchdog has banned a series of Toyota SUV advertisements for promoting driving behavior that disregards environmental impact. This action coincides with Paris' initiative to limit the presence of large vehicles in the city by raising parking fees for heavier cars.

The controversial 2020 Toyota campaign featured a video of multiple Toyota Hilux SUVs speeding through various off-road terrains, including rivers. The accompanying voiceover described this scene as "one of nature's true spectacles," sparking significant backlash from environmental groups.

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Adfree Cities, a campaign group, lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), asserting that the adverts glorified environmentally harmful practices. The group emphasized the misleading nature of such advertisements, which often promote the allure of rugged adventure despite most new SUVs being registered in affluent urban areas in the UK.

"These adverts epitomize Toyota's total disregard for nature and the climate," commented Veronica Wignall, co-director at Adfree Cities. She criticized the depiction of large, pollution-intensive vehicles rampaging through delicate ecosystems.

Toyota responded to the criticism by stating that the Hilux was designed for challenging environments, serving essential roles in industries like farming and forestry. However, the ASA countered this defense, noting that the advertisements did not accurately reflect these scenarios. Instead, they conveyed a message of indiscriminate off-road driving with little consideration for environmental consequences.

The ASA's ruling was met with approval by environmental advocates, including Wignall, who, however, believes that more stringent regulations on SUV advertising are necessary.

Meanwhile, Toyota maintained its stance, stating that the depicted behavior was not environmentally harmful. The company clarified that the video was shot on private land in an ecologically non-sensitive area, and the static images were computer-generated, leaving no real environmental footprint.

In a related development, research by Badvertising supports the claim that most new SUVs in the UK are registered in urban areas, with the top registrations in affluent London boroughs. Addressing a similar concern, Paris is taking steps to discourage the use of heavy SUVs in the city. The French capital proposes to increase parking fees for petrol and diesel vehicles weighing over 1.6 tonnes and electric vehicles over two tonnes. The initiative includes the use of scanners to assess the weight of vehicles based on license plate information.

A citizens' vote is scheduled for next year to decide the role of SUVs in Paris, marking a significant step in urban environmental policy. This decision reflects a growing trend among cities worldwide to address the environmental impact of heavy vehicles in urban settings.

Samira is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, but deep inside, her heart is a nomad! She's a state champion debater, a public speaker, a scriptwriter, a theatre actress, but most importantly — A GREEN CITIZEN! She thinks of herself as a storyteller who thrives on enjoying the life at fullest and telling everyone the tales of life.

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