A new campaign called “Badvertising” is demanding an immediate end to adverts for large polluting cars.
It says the government should clamp down on sports utility vehicle (SUV) car adverts in the way it curbed smoking ads.
A car industry spokesperson said modern SUVs are the cleanest in history, and said many can run on batteries.
But a leading academic said sales of big polluting cars will breach UK climate targets, and should be banned.
A government spokesperson said: “We are developing an ambitious transport decarbonisation plan in order to reach our goal of net zero by 2050.
“We have also provided consumers with widely-advertised incentives and information to help inform their choices when buying a vehicle.”
SUVs now make up more than 4-in-10 new cars sold in UK, while fully electric vehicles account for fewer than two in a hundred.
The report from the green think tank The New Weather Institute and the climate charity Possible says the trend towards big cars is propelled by aggressive advertising.
They fear the global trend of rapidly-increasing sales of bigger and more polluting SUVs is jeopardising climate goals.
The authors of the report point out that even electric engines won’t solve all the problems with SUVs.
That’s because they will still pollute the air through particles rubbing off brakes and tyres, and use up carbon-emitting resources to make their heavy batteries.
In urban areas, big SUVs are a particular nuisance, they say. Their report found that 150,000 new cars on the road are too big for a standard UK street parking space.
It comes as local authorities strive to create space on the roads for walkers and cyclists.
The authors want to outlaw advertising for cars with average emissions of over 160g CO2/km, and those exceeding 4.8m in length.
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Andrew Simms, one author, said: “We ended tobacco advertising when we understood the threat from smoking to public health.
“Now that we know the human health and climate damage done by car pollution, it’s time to stop adverts making the problem worse.
“There’s adverts, and then there’s badverts, promoting the biggest, worst emitting SUVs is like up-selling pollution, and we need to stop.” Read more