Thursday, March 30, 2023

CAAD report finds climate disinformation at play during COP27

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BATHINDA: The Climate action against disinformation (CAAD), a global coalition of over 50 climate and anti-disinformation organisations, Thursday released its roundup report on climate disinformation detected around the United Nations’ climate conference (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The report reflects the efforts of the coalition’s COP27 intelligence unit, with analysts from 18 organizations led by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD). The unit tracked the most prominent false and misleading narratives.
The report is from an analysis of over 850 advertisers between 1 September and 23 November 2022.
The report found that a sample of fossil fuel sector-linked entities spent approximately 4 million USD on Meta for paid advertisements to spread misleading claims on climate crisis, net-zero targets and necessity of fossil fuels prior to and during COP27. The analysis identified 3,781 advertisements and the majority of these were from a PR group linked to a US institute while America’s plastic makers alone spent over $1 million and the Saudi Green Initiative ran 13 advertisements.
Analysts detected a surprising increase in content related to outright climate denial, including a spike on Twitter for the hashtag #ClimateScam since July 2022.
The narrative playbook of disinformation claims are represented as exploiting the cost of living crisis and sidestepping concerns regarding the climate crisis or greenhouse gas emissions, false doubt about the reliability of green technology and false promotion of fossil fuels as necessary and reliable, a misleading framing of loss and damage discussions as climate reparations.
The report comes soon after Sultan Ahmed Jaber was announced to become the new President for COP28, making the next UN Climate Summit the first to be led by an active oil executive and newly revealed analysis that Exxon – one of the world’s largest oil companies – accurately predicted climate projections in the 1970s, despite publicly denying the link between fossil fuels and planet warming for decades.
Furthermore, COP27 saw record-breaking attendance for fossil lobbyists. These developments set the stage for a greater spread in disinformation at next year’s climate conference and around other climate policy moments, states the report.
“This research shows that climate disinformation isn’t going away and, in fact, it’s getting worse. During COP, Twitter’s search engine pushed #ClimateScam as a top result without any justification for the data behind it,” said Erika Seiber, climate disinformation spokesperson at Friends of the Earth US. “Until governments hold social media and ad companies accountable, and companies hold professional disinformers accountable, crucial conversations around the climate crisis are going to be put in jeopardy. To start, Twitter should offer an explanation of how this inexcusable climate denial trend came to be. ”
Members of the CAAD coalition were also on-the-ground in Sharm el-Sheikh during the conference, elevating the urgency of addressing climate disinformation with leaders in climate and tech policy. “COP27 became the first COP where climate misinformation became part of the conversation among country delegations and leaders,” says Jake Dubbins, co-chair of Conscious Advertising Network, “Leaders we spoke to from countries Germany to Saint Lucia were all deeply concerned about the disinformation war. If the urgency of the climate crisis continues to be undermined by mis- and disinformation, then the climate action we all so desperately need will continue to be delayed to the point of no return.”
CAAD calls on the US government, EU, UN, IPCC and Big Tech companies to acknowledge the climate disinformation threat and take immediate steps to improve transparency and data access to quantify disinformation trends, to stop misleading fossil fuel advocacy in paid ad content, enforce policies against repeat offenders spreading disinformation on platforms, and to adopt a standardized and comprehensive definition of climate disinformation.
The Institute for Strategic Dialogue was involved in the report as coordinating partner while ACT Climate Labs, CASM Technology, Climate Nexus, Code for Africa, Conscious Advertising Network (CAN), DeSmog, Dewey Square Group, E3G, Friends of the Earth US (FoE), Graphika, Media Matters for America, Purpose Asia Pacific, Purpose Climate Labs, Roots – Greenpeace, Union of Concerned Scientists, University of Exeter – SEDA Lab as contributing partners.

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