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Lawyers challenge BP’s climate “greenwashing” advertising campaign

Lawyers challenge BP’s climate “greenwashing” advertising campaign

Health warnings proposed as fossil fuel companies continue to spend millions misleading the general public

Nature
This speech will change your life

This speech will change your life

Carl Sagan puts our lives on the Pale Blue Dot into perspective

Technology
How to degrow aviation

How to degrow aviation

90% of the world population have never flown. Aviation’s climate impact is produced by a few wealthy frequent flyers

Culture
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Climate crisis reality check

The politically acceptable approaches to reducing carbon emissions don't work. Here's what will

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Culture

Lawyers challenge BP’s climate “greenwashing” advertising campaign

Health warnings proposed as fossil fuel companies continue to spend millions misleading the general public

Environmental lawyers from ClientEarth have today filed a high-level complaint against oil giant BP, claiming that it is misleading consumers about its focus on low carbon energy and solutions to climate change in its multimillion pound advertising campaign.

They are backing up the complaint with a call for a ban on all fossil fuel advertising unless it comes with a tobacco-style health warning about the dangers to the planet and people.

The lawyers have triggered an official complaints procedure against the fossil fuel company under the guidelines of the OECD, an international set of rules governing corporate conduct.

The legal complaint focuses on BP’s ‘Keep Advancing’ and ‘Possibilities Everywhere’ campaigns, its biggest marketing blitz in a decade. BP are currently paying for their adverts to be shown across billboards, newspapers and television in the UK, US and Europe as well as on social media and online.

ClientEarth climate lawyer Sophie Marjanac said the complaint features a dossier of more than 100 pages of evidence examining BP’s advertising and the impression it creates for ordinary consumers.

“BP is spending millions on an advertising campaign to give the impression that it’s racing to renewables, that its gas is cleaner, and that it is part of the climate solution,” she said.

“This is a smokescreen. While BP’s advertising focuses on clean energy, in reality, more than 96% of the company’s annual capital expenditure is on oil and gas. According to its own figures, BP is spending less than four pounds in every hundred on low-carbon investments each year. The rest is fuelling the climate crisis.”

Specifically, the lawyers are taking issue with the potentially misleading impression BP is giving by focusing on its renewable energy investments, given oil and gas makes up such a massive proportion of BP’s business.

They are also questioning the accuracy of BP’s statements around gas – which it describes as “cleaner burning” – as well as the company’s claim that gas currently plays only a backup role on power grids in support of rather than displacing renewable energy.

Also in question are BP’s assertions that increasing global energy demand, including greater use of gas in the coming decades is essential to human progress.

Lawyers say BP’s adverts do not tell the whole story about global energy demand. Climate scientists warn that global warming will reverse human progress and development and have catastrophic impacts on the world’s poorest. Scientists also warn that the world needs to urgently reduce emissions from the fossil fuel energy sources, like those BP sells, if the Paris Agreement goals are to be met.

ClientEarth’s complaint is calling on BP to cease its advertising campaign until it complies with the OECD guidelines, issue a correction and ensure all future advertising complies with the rules.

ClientEarth have also launched a campaign calling for all fossil fuel advertising to be banned unless it comes with tobacco-style health warning about the dangers to people and planet, given that other major polluters – such as Exxon and Shell – are also running high-profile marketing campaigns.

“In the past, tobacco companies were able to mislead the public about the safety of their products. We see real parallels with fossil fuel companies and the tobacco industry, which knew about the risks their products posed but used misleading marketing campaigns to sell them regardless,” Marjanac added.

“Make no mistake, this is a climate emergency. You only need to see the increase in extreme weather events around the world – from flooding in the UK, to wildfires in the US and Australia. Meanwhile BP is doubling down on business as usual, running its biggest ad campaign since the Deepwater Horizon disaster to put up a shiny green facade for the public.”

Nature

This speech will change your life

Carl Sagan puts our lives on the Pale Blue Dot into perspective

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.

The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor, and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps a no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.

To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

CARL SAGAN - Who Speaks for Earth?

Our loyalties are to the species and the planet. We speak for Earth. Our obligation to survive is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring.

Technology

How to degrow aviation

90% of the world population have never flown. Aviation’s climate impact is produced by a few wealthy frequent flyers

On the occasion of the climate summit COP 25 in Madrid, the Stay Grounded network publishes a new report on “Degrowth of Aviation”. It combines a multitude of policy instruments and strategies to reduce aviation in a just way.

Flying is the fastest way to fry the planet, and we don’t have time to hope for unrealistic technological solutions for aviation - there’s no way around reducing aviation. Degrowth of aviation can and must go along with attractive mobility alternatives, creating a livable future for us and our children

says Magdalena Heuwieser from Stay Grounded, one of the report’s authors.

With the report, Stay Grounded, a global network of about 150 member organisations, fills an important gap: While it has been clear to the climate movement and civil society that “green growth” of aviation is and will be an illusion, clear steps leading to effectively reducing the negative environmental and social impacts of aviation have been missing so far. In July 2019, during the conference “Degrowth of Aviation” in Barcelona, more than 150 experts and civil society participants discussed different measures. The outcomes of the conference and further discussions led to the now published report.

Measures to reduce aviation need to be just

“Fact is that about 90% of the world population have never set foot on an airplane. So the big share of aviation’s climate impact is produced by few wealthy frequent flyers. To achieve climate justice, we therefore need to target those who fly often and on the expense of others: residents exposed to noise and particle pollution from planes, local ecosystems, future generations and those in the Global South who are already bearing the brunt of the climate crisis”, says Gabriela Vega Téllez from the Network CPOOEM, member of the National Indigenous Congress in Mexico and of the Stay Grounded Network.

According to the report, just measures to tackle the issue of aviation are ones that will:

  1. reduce traffic, but enable mobility and cultural exchange (by putting moratoria on airports, and shifting flights to rail, busses and online conferences)
  2. eliminate the unfair privileges and power of the aviation industry (by eliminating tax exemptions, subsidies and lobby control)
  3. target the wealthy frequent flyers more than those who rarely or never fly (by a Frequent Flyer Levy or Air Miles Levy)
  4. provide a just transition for workers in the aviation sector
  5. not create new problems, such as with offset projects, biofuels, or an increasing need for energy through high demand for synthetic fuels. Also, measures should not overemphasise efficiency, which can lead to a “rebound effect” that causes even more air travel.

There is little value in civil society demanding ‘environmentally friendly, decarbonized or carbon-neutral aviation’. Instead, ‘sufficiency’ and degrowth of aviation are necessary

concludes Magdalena Heuwieser. The report will be discussed in the civil society summit accompanying the COP25 in Madrid, and is aimed to spark more campaigns and policies to tackle aviation’s climate impact in a just way.