COP28 – Quotes from CAAD Members

Here’s what CAAD members had to say about our findings at COP28…

Jennie King, Head of Climate Research and Policy, ISD / Head of CAAD Intelligence Unit – “The world continues to face an environmental crisis compounded by an information crisis. Denialism has been mainstreamed in public life, and we’re now seeing increased investment to push “false gods” that sound good while maintaining the status quo. Such content not only undermines the mandate for action, but erodes trust in institutions and is producing violent outcomes for scientists, activists and public figures alike. While covert activity is rife, an equal amount is happening in plain sight and actively enabled by tech platforms. The professionalised efforts of the fossil fuel lobby are now intersecting with State-sponsored PR, extremist movements and commercial disinformers on- and offline. We must recognise the threat of mis- and disinformation for what it is: a barrier to cohesion, to action, and to a liveable future for all.”

Sean Buchan, Editor of COP, LOOK LISTEN – “Our work at COP28 has shown how much of a threat climate misinformation is to a prosperous future for humanity. Unfortunately, the fossil fuel industry has been at this for decades. Meanwhile, Big Tech’s iron grip on the digitisation of communications is strengthening, providing bad faith actors plenty more opportunities for sabotage. Climate action is in all of our best interests long term, but a powerful few are still delaying it in the name of a quick buck. We must continue to accelerate our understanding of climate misinformation and start getting ahead of this issue. I sincerely hope that COP, LOOK, LISTEN has been valuable in helping us all do that.

Faye Holder, Program Manager, InfluenceMap – “The use of online platforms and advertising are key tools in the fossil fuel lobby’s playbook. These tools provide relatively cheap access to mass audiences, with limited oversight, allowing the dissemination of misleading messages and disinformation about climate change and its solutions. These same messages are used again in conversations with policymakers, for the ultimate goal of delaying climate policy. And we know this because the gas industry has told us in their own words that they are working to defend the role of gas from the “potential existential” threat of climate change regulation. We need to make sure the public and our policymakers are protected from disinformation – both on and offline – and bring science back into the conversation.” 

Kate Cell, Senior Campaigner, Union of Concerned Scientists – “The oil and gas industry’s ‘deny and deceive’ tactics have always been aimed at delaying the fast, fair and funded phase-out of fossil fuels. During COP28 in Dubai, major fossil fuel companies such as ExxonMobil and Chevron ramped up their greenwashing advertising, including focusing on technologies aimed at prolonging fossil fuel use. These efforts by industry deny the scientific realities of the climate crisis and must be swiftly rejected by policymakers.”

Harriet Kingaby and Jake Dubbins, Co-Founders, Conscious Advertising Network – “We, the advertising industry, have to face up to our role in enabling climate change and the destruction it is causing. Applying our skills in this way is unacceptable and history will not be kind. The wider advertising ecosystem, from adtech to platforms, also requires urgent reform. We need transparency about where ads appear so that we can ensure we’re not funding misinformation, and greater accountability when things go wrong. So much of this hangs on researchers being able to access easily navigable ad libraries and APIs to hold platforms and adtech providers accountable. We cannot do business when our information systems contribute to planetary and societal breakdown.

Callum Hood, Head of Research, CCDH Worryingly, this year has seen an escalation of attempts to threaten, demean and undermine independent activists, scientists and researchers engaged in several different areas of public policy – including climate and tech. The need to counter monetized climate disinformation has never been more urgent. It’s a great credit to all those involved in these efforts that such impactful work is being done against a backdrop of an increasingly hostile political and cultural environment on social media, in which conflict and aggression are incentivized – and even held up as virtues by those who set the terms of debate.

Michael Khoo, Climate Disinformation Program Director, Friends of the Earth US – “Big tech companies like X and Google have been fanning the flames of climate disinformation, and giving marginal views a larger platform than they have organically earned. We must request that social media platforms provide a full accounting of their algorithmic biases and boosts to civil society, if we are to have a fair fight to stop climate change. Early regulatory efforts like the EU’s Digital Services Act and Code of Practice are steps in the right direction that countries like the U.S. must follow”