Climate campaigners are taking their fight one step further by targeting advertising and public relations agencies working with the fossil fuel industry, demanding that communications groups drop such clients and stop greenwashing their image.
The world’s largest PR company, Edelman, undertook in November a global client review following a report in September from Clean Creatives, which called out the world’s largest ad and PR agencies for working with clients in the fossil fuel industry. “The F-List 2021” compiled by Clean Creatives documents 90 ad and PR agencies “working with fossil fuel corporations that are responsible for climate change and compares holding company pledges for climate action with their work to greenwash their clients’ image and spread climate misinformation.”
The F-List 2021 Report calls out companies, including Edelman for its work with Shell, ExxonMobil, and Chevron; WPP for its work with BP in Ogilvy, Shell at WundermanThompson, and Exxon in both Hill + Knowlton and Burson Cohn and Wolfe.
Edelman’s client review ended, and the company said that it “found examples where Edelman has played a key role in helping organizations acknowledge the significance of climate change and start their journey towards action. This is the type of work we want to do, we should do, and will do more of in the future.”
The review found “zero examples of us erring on facts”, CEO Richard Edelman told the Financial Times: “What we found, though, was a lack of context,” he added.
Clean Creatives, however, wants Edelman and other PR agencies to drop all fossil fuel clients that plan to expand their production of oil, gas, or coal, end work with all fossil fuel companies and trade groups that perpetuate climate deception, and cease all work that hinders climate legislation.
Australian campaign group Comms Declare criticized the results of Edelman’s client review, saying that it “has everything except what matters most – dropping fossil fuel clients.”
“As you might expect from the world’s largest PR firm, Edelman’s announcement makes all the right noises but fails on concrete, measurable action,” said Belinda Noble, Founder, Comms Declare.
“If Edelman continues to represent companies like ExxonMobil and Viva Energy, it will only further entrench itself as the world’s largest apologist for the fossil fuel sector,” she added.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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They have been exerting excessive pressure on governments around the world particularly the EU government to accelerate energy transition at the expense of fossil fuels but have ended with a huge energy crisis with natural gas prices skyrocketing thus forcing a shift from gas to coal and also exposing the inability of renewables on their own to satisfy demand for electricity because of their intermittent nature.
Environmental activists have also tried to pressure banks to not offer loans or lines of credit to the oil industry but failed miserably since the global oil industry is the world’s most profitable industry and therefore investors who want to maximize return on their investments will always invest in it. The steep selloff in renewable energy stocks last year speaks volumes about the failure of the activists to achieve their objectives with the banks. On the other hand, the oil industry was in fact one of the best performers last year.
Now climate campaigners are targeting PR agencies to force them to drop fossil fuels customers but they will won't fare better than with banks.
Climate campaigners should think rationally and accept that renewables have to compete like other energy sources for a share in the global energy mix. An increase in their share in the energy mix automatically means a decline in coal and natural gas. They should abandon their dogmatic thinking of ditching fossil fuels because this isn’t going to happen now or even in the next 100 years.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London