Dutch City Haarlem Becomes First in the World to Ban Meat Ads

The decision has transpired from a climate activism impetus

Dutch city Haarlem will become the first in the world to ban meat ads from public spaces, because of the food's climate impact.

With a population of around 160,000, Haarlem lies to the west of Amsterdam. From 2024, the city will outlaw ads for intensively farmed meat on public places like buses, shelters, and screens. Whether sustainably-produced meat will be included in the ban has yet to be decided.

According to the UN, livestock generates more than 14% of all man-made greenhouse gases, including methane. "Meat is harmful to the environment. We cannot tell people that there is a climate crisis and encourage them to buy products that are part of it," Ziggy Klazes, a councilor from the green political party GroenLinks—who drafted the motion—told the Trouw newspaper.

The response from meat producers was, of course, swift. The ban has been criticised by political parties and the Dutch meat industry, who view it as stigmatization and a form of censorship.

“It is an unacceptable violation of entrepreneurial freedom and it would be fatal for pig farmers”, said Joey Rademaker, a Haarlem councilor for the right-wing BVNL party, adding that he believes banning commercials through political motives is almost dictatorial. According to a law professor from the University of Groningen, Herban Bröring has said the ban could lead to lawsuits from wholesalers.

Klazes said it will be the first in Europe and indeed the world to ban “bad” meat ads in public spaces. She believes it disputes the city’s politics to earn money by renting the city’s public space to products which accelerate global warming. The ban would target all cheap meat from intensive farming, which includes ads from fast food chains.

According to Statistics Netherlands, about 95% of the population eat meat though less than half consume it everyday. To meet the EU's target of net zero emissions by 2050, Greenpeace research suggests meat consumption must be reduced to 24 kg per person per year, compared with the current average of 82kg. The Netherlands is the EU’s biggest meat exporter.

Air travel ads, petrol-driven cars, and fossil fuel ads have already been banned in Amsterdam and The Hague—now Haarlem is set to add meat to that list.