News article

CAR MAKERS BLOCKING CLIMATE ACTION SPEND BILLIONS ON SPORTS’ SPONSORSHIP – NEW REPORT

May 17 2023

New research by the Badvertising campaign has found that major global car brands, like Toyota and BMW, are collectively ploughing $4.5 billion into sport sponsorship in order to improve their image, sales and bolster their green credentials amid rising concern over climate change within sport. The estimated total spending from car manufacturers on sports sponsorship is now significantly higher than a 2018 estimate of $1.28 billion, and shows no signs of slowing.

CAR MAKERS BLOCKING CLIMATE ACTION SPEND BILLIONS ON SPORTS’ SPONSORSHIP – NEW REPORT

The report, Badvertising and the New Weather Institute, found that sponsorship deals pursued by Toyota and BMW have recently centred around sustainability. For instance, BMW recently became the official sustainability partner of Real Madrid football club and Toyota is currently providing “sustainable mobility solutions” for the Giro d’Italia grand tour cycling race in Italy. This is widely understood as a way of greenwashing their image through sport.

The findings of the report, Dangerous Driving: why sport should drop sponsorship from major polluters, show that the sponsorship deals of Toyota and BMW, particularly those that relate to sustainability, are at odds with the companies continued production of polluting internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. In 2021 alone, Toyota and BMW collectively sold 12,576,748 ICE vehicles that will emit around an estimated 855 million tonnes of CO2. This is equivalent to 230 coal-fired power plants running for an entire year, or 2,149 gas-fired power plants running for an entire year.

Car makers pump billions into sports’ sponsorship because it works. Research suggests that sports sponsorship is an effective way for companies to build a positive brand image, as spectators associate the collective emotion of specific teams and sports with the companies that sponsor. This normalises polluting products and companies meaning fans and spectators can overlook their more environmentally or socially damaging practices.

 

Key findings of the report include:

  • Sport has become a primary way for global car brands, like Toyota and BMW, to launder their image, improve their reputations, and bolster their green credentials, all while lobbying behind the scenes to delay climate policy.

  • Toyota and BMW have over 120 active partnerships and sponsorship deals across at least 23 sports, with specific deals centred around sustainability.

  • Despite their green claims, Toyota and BMW sold 12,576,748 fossil fuel powered vehicles between them in 2021. Over their lifetimes, these cars will emit around an estimated 855 million tonnes of CO2e, equivalent to 230 coal-fired power plants running for an entire year.

  • By 2040 Toyota plans to sell 110 million ICE vehicles that will over their lifetime emit an estimated 7.4 billion tonnes of CO2, equivalent to 2,000 coal-fired power plants running for an entire year

  • Alongside climate damaging carbon emissions, cars also cause lethal air pollution, road traffic deaths and injuries, and maintain sedentary lifestyles, all threats to sport, athletes and fans.

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