BP is facing demands to pull its latest global ad campaign, amid claims it is creating a “misleading impression” that the energy giant is moving towards renewables when in fact the vast majority of its planned investment is in oil and gas.
The global ad campaign, devised by Ogilvy New York, launched earlier this year – its biggest campaign for a decade. But it is the latest execution, carrying the strapline “we’re working to make energy cleaner”, that has caused the biggest stink, with environmental group ClientEarth insisting the company is just putting “up a shiny green facade for the public”.
The group claims that BP’s business model is still fossil-based, with over 96% of the company’s annual spend on oil and gas and the emissions from burning BP’s products make it one of the world’s biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
ClientEarth climate accountability lead Sophie Marjanac said: “BP is spending millions on advertising to give the impression that it’s racing to renewables, that its gas is cleaner, and that it is part of the climate solution.”
ClientEarth says the ad campaign is in breach of guidelines for multinational firms on environmental communications and advertising issued by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).
It has now filed a 100-page complaint to the OECD and is calling for fossil fuel companies to be banned from advertising unless they carry tobacco-style health warnings about the dangers their operations pose to the planet.
Marjanac added: “Make no mistake, this is a climate emergency. 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.
“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.
“The tobacco-style health warning we want to see on all fossil fuel ads should quote the IPCC’s warning about the dangers of continuing to extract and burn fossil fuels. This would make sure the public is not misled, and fossil fuel companies are accountable for the damage they do.”
In a statement, a BP spokesman said: “We have not seen this complaint, but we strongly reject the suggestion that our advertising is misleading. BP has clearly said that the world is on an unsustainable path and must do more to reduce emissions. We support a rapid transition of the world’s energy system.
“BP is of course well known as a major oil and gas producer. We are also committed to advancing a low carbon future. So one of the purposes of this advertising campaign is to let people know about some of the possibilities we see to do that, for example in wind, solar and electric vehicle charging, as well as in natural gas and advanced fuels.”
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