BP ranks as the fifth most polluting fossil fuel company in the world. They may be no Exxon, but they still do plenty of damage to the climate.
Yet, judging by the company’s new ad campaigns, you’d think that BP had seen the error of its ways in the past and was now on the way to reform.
Well, a public-interest law firm in the UK is having none of it. They just filed a complaint with government regulators claiming that BP has broken rules against deceptive advertising accepted by the UK and other member nations in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.
“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,” said ClientEarth climate accountability lead Sophie Marjanac.
At its #NotBusinessAsUsual website, BP touts such efforts to go green as installing charging stations for electric vehicles, building solar farms and recycling bioplastics.
ClientEarth says these activities add up to very little. BP is still overwhelmingly focused on producing fossil fuels with over 96% of the company’s annual investment on oil and gas. That makes the company one of the world’s leading greenhouse polluters and contributors to dangerous climate heating.
The firm also has problems with BP continuing to claim that natural gas is a “bridge fuel” from dirty coal to cleaner energy. The truth is that, when you tally up methane leaks from producing and transporting gas, it’s really no cleaner than coal. Buy even if such a bogus “bridge” was ever necessary in the past, it certainly isn’t today, when truly clean renewables like wind and solar are ready to go and may even be cheaper than gas.
When Used as Directed, this Product Causes Climate Chaos
“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,” says ClientEarth’s Marjanac.
That’s why ClientEarth wants fossil fuel ads to display a warning label with text like this:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that emissions from fossil fuels are the dominant cause of global warming. The IPCC warns that fossil fuel emissions must be halved within 11 years if global warming is to be limited to 1.5°C. Warming above 1.5°C risks further sea level rise, extreme weather, biodiversity loss, and species extinction, as well as food scarcity, worsening health and poverty for millions of people worldwide.
Writing at Grist, Zoya Teierstein takes the idea one step further. Citing a study that graphics have proven more effective than words at getting attention on cigarette warning labels, she suggests using a variety of warning labels. “So if ClientEarth wants people to pay attention to its proposed warning labels, it might want to add photos of floods, hurricanes, and droughts to the mix.”
ClientEarth has set up a petition campaign to #DemandTheWholeTruth in fossil fuel advertising, whether it comes from BP or other dirty energy companies.
“BP is not alone in its approach. We believe all fossil fuel advertising should be banned unless it comes with a tobacco-style health warning about the dangers to people and the planet.”
— Erik Curren, author of The Solar Patriot