Deny, Deceive, Delay: Documenting and responding to climate disinformation at COP26 and beyond

A new report by ISD and CAAD documents the extent and diverse nature of climate disinformation around last year’s international climate conference in Glasgow COP26.

Based on the findings, the report shows that both the decision-makers and the social media platforms are ineffective in combatting climate disinformation and preventing it from jeopardising climate action in crucial diplomacy moments such as COP26.

The report covers the most comprehensive climate disinformation analysis that has been carried out by experts from 10 different organisations over the past 18 months and during COP26. This analysis shows a growing trend in disinformation away from outright climate denial toward more subtle tactics to downplay climate action plans, mitigation or adaptation strategies.

Especially during COP26, climate solutions such as renewable energy transition or electrification of transportation were the main themes where the climate disinformation attacks were frequently observed. Also, false publicity efforts and advertising campaigns to prolong the usage of fossil fuels by framing them as supportive of climate goals were redundant.

In line with the findings, the CAAD also created a list of policy recommendations for both governments and big tech to mitigate the risks of climate disinformation.

The governments should step up against climate misinformation as soon as possible by:

  • Formally recognising the climate disinformation threat,
  • Adopting a universal definition of climate disinformation
  • Addressing the policy loopholes to prevent the spread of climate disinformation.

There are also concrete action recommendations for the platforms to improve their systematic approach to preventing climate disinformation:

  • Improve transparency and data access to quantify disinformation trends at scale
  • Adopt a definition of climate disinformation in Community Guidelines or Terms of Service
  • Restrict misleading fossil fuel advocacy in paid advertising and sponsored content
  • Enforce or introduce policies against repeat offenders spreading disinformation on their products and services
  • Better label old or misleading content to prevent re-circulation of disinformation
  • Enable image-based searches via APIs to better track viral disinformation in meme, video and image format

Here is the press release and the executive summary of the report. You can read the full report here.

In addition, a press conference was held in Bonn to point out the climate disinformation threat to jeopardise climate action: watch the event here.


Please feel free to reach out to if you have any questions or if you would like to connect with the writers of the report.