Global action is needed to combat climate misinformation & disinformation
Join us in voicing your concerns by signing our open letter to the COP Presidency, the UNFCCC, and the CEOs of leading tech platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Google, Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest, and Reddit.
The recent UNEP Emissions Gap Report has sounded the alarm: we are currently heading towards a dangerous 2.8°C global warming, far exceeding the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C target. As pointed out by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley at COP26, even a 2°C increase spells disaster for vulnerable communities. As humanity stands on the brink of a climate catastrophe, vested economic and political interests continue to foster and fund climate mis/disinformation, obstructing vital progress. In a pressing appeal last month, UN Secretary General António Guterres emphasised the urgent need to abandon greenwashing and delay tactics to avert looming disaster.
Addressing climate mis/disinformation is a prerequisite to effectively fighting climate change. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report highlighted the necessity of immediate action, noting that organised dissemination of scientifically inaccurate information has exacerbated polarisation and hindered the formulation of new and ambitious climate policies.
Currently, the mis/disinformation industry, valued at approximately $2.6 billion, utilises tech platforms to spread falsehoods on an array of topics, from the recent referendum in Chile to the adoption of clean energy technologies in the US. This pervasive issue poses a serious risk to the success of the upcoming COP28, potentially inciting violence against the event.
The individuals, organisations, agencies, and civil society signatories to this letter are calling on COP decision-makers and tech platforms to enact prompt and comprehensive measures to counter these threats. In November 2021, over 400 organisations and individuals addressed an open letter to the COP26 Presidency, the UNFCCC, and the CEOs of tech platforms, urging them to mobilise against the growing menace of climate mis/disinformation.
We have seen some progress. In 2021, Google pledged to ban ads and monetisation of content contradicting well-established scientific consensus on climate change. Following suit, Pinterest instituted a new policy in 2022 to curb climate disinformation in content and ads, and Twitter announced a new policy to demonetise climate denial in its advertising. Moreover, the European Union has taken a pioneering step in recognising the urgency to tackle climate mis/disinformation. EU Parliament lawmakers have resoundingly endorsed a report that urges MEPs to actively counter climate mis/disinformation. This endorsement not only advocates for the creation of a “global code of conduct” but also applauds the initiatives undertaken at COP26. These initiatives aim to establish a universal definition of climate mis/disinformation and strategise effective measures to address this pressing issue.
Despite these positive developments, a sustainable, long-term strategy is still lacking. The pivotal COP28 event remains vulnerable to mis/disinformation campaigns, potentially with tragic outcomes. A universally accepted definition is imperative to foster international collaboration in combating this issue. Without delineating the problem and acknowledging the vast industry perpetuating it, our efforts to counter it remain hampered.
Together, let’s foster a global commitment to safeguard our future by effectively combatting climate mis/disinformation.
To the COP Presidency, Country Delegations and UNFCCC:
The COP Presidency has stated that addressing the climate crisis requires bold and rapid collective action. We advocate for the development of a clear plan for action against climate misinformation and disinformation based on the following definition:
Climate disinformation and misinformation refers to deceptive or misleading content that:
- Undermines the existence or impacts of climate change, the unequivocal human influence on climate change, and the need for corresponding urgent action according to the IPCC scientific consensus and in line with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement;
- Misrepresents scientific data, including by omission or cherry-picking, in order to erode trust in climate science, climate-focused institutions, experts, and solutions; or
- Falsely publicises efforts as supportive of climate goals that in fact contribute to climate warming or contravene the scientific consensus on mitigation or adaptation.
Acknowledge the extent of climate mis/disinformation in the global information ecosystem and formally recognise the universal definition of climate mis/disinformation.
Undertake activities to prevent climate mis/disinformation being targeted at actors within the UNFCCC and beyond.
To the CEOs of Meta, Google, Twitter, TikTok, and Reddit:
We advocate for the implementation of climate misinformation and disinformation policies and enforcement that extend to content, algorithms and advertising, similar to the robust COVID-19 policies that have been published, and that you:
- 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
Advertise your zero-tolerance approach directly to users.
Do not publish adverts if they contain climate misinformation or disinformation based on the definition.
Share your internal research on how climate misinformation and disinformation spread on your platform with researchers and journalists so we can work together to tackle this global, multi-faceted issue.
Organisations that have signed
Patagonia / SSE plc / Sky / Virgin Media O2 / Friends of the Earth / Friends of the Earth U.S. / WWF International / The Climate Reality Project / British Gas / Ben & Jerry’s / Green Britain Group – Ecotricity & Forest Green Rovers FC / Havas Media / Dentsu / Omnicom Media Group UK / VCCP / Ebiquity Plc / Avaaz / Action for the Climate Emergency (ACE) / The Drum / Accenture Song / Alliance for Science / Global Witness / Conscious Advertising Network / Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) / Center for Countering Digital Hate / National Union of Students / InfluenceMap / Power Shift Africa / HOPE not hate / Code for Africa / Coordinating Committee of the Climate Observatory, Brazil / Toast Ale / WeAre8 / World Land Trust / Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) / Eco-bot.net / Instituto Climainfo / Comms Declare / Stop Funding Heat / AAR / 38 Degrees / Brand Advance / JW Collective / ICE / Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK) / Union of Concerned Scientists / Forum for the Future / Carnegie UK / Good-Loop / iCS – Instituto Clima e Sociedade / Community Energy England / Marshall Street Editors / Global Energy Monitor / LD Communications / TGN ltd / Too Many Dreams / Changing Markets Foundation / Fair Vote UK / Elevenfiftyfive Ltd / On the One / Anything is Possible / Empower Agency / Entropy / Wilderness Agency / Shiny Awards / Brandmint / Roq.ad / Hopscotch Consulting / Portas Agency Ltd / Assembly / Mobsta / Sarah Casterline Design, LLC / Responsible 100 / CREOpoint, Inc. / Rally / Materials in Mind / DOT DOT DOT Group Ltd. / STRYKK (Elegantly Spirited) / KEAM GEORGE AGENCY / If Not Now Digital Ltd / Assembly / UKWIN / If Not Now / Hattusia and the Echo Chamber Club / Friends Provident Foundation / MCH London / Underdog Sports Marketing / The Lift / YRS Truly / Transition Crich / Glimpse / Climate Disinformation Coalition
Individuals that have signed
Christiana Figueres – CEO Global Optimism / Former Executive Secretary UNFCCC / Laurence Tubiana – CEO European Climate Foundation / May Boeve, Executive Director, 350.org / Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF Global Lead Climate & Energy, COP20 President, Former Minister of Environment for Peru / Bill Hare, CEO, Climate Analytics / Baroness Bryony Worthington, Crossbench Peer, House of Lords / Beth Thoren, Director of Environmental Action, Patagonia / Mark Lynas, climate author and pro-science advocate / Sir Jonathon Porritt, Environmentalist and founder director of Forum for the Future / Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director at Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment / Mohamed Adow, Director, Power Shift Africa / Dr. Sarah Evanega, Director, Alliance for Science / Paulo Roberto Jubilut, Biologist / Allan Cheboi, Senior Investigations Manager, Code for Africa / Greg James, Global CSO, Havas Media / Ben Downing, Global Managing Director, Ethical Media & Strategic Partnerships, Havas Media / Nick Waters, Group CEO, Ebiquity Plc / Katie Eyton, Chief Ethics and Compliance Office, Omnicom Media Group UK / Suzie Rook, Head of Brand and Design, SSE plc / Claire Carrington, Director of Business Services, SSE plc / Fiona Ball, Group Director, Bigger Picture, Sky / Jerry Daykin, VP, Head of Media, Beam Suntory / Simon Groves, Director of Brand and Marketing, Virgin Media O2 / Andrew Middleton, Commercial Director, British Gas / Robert Del Naja, Artist and Musician / The Right Reverend Dr. Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford / Paul Polman, Co-founder & Chair, IMAGINE / Dr Dale Vince OBE, Green Britain Group – Ecotricity & Forest Green Rovers FC / Michael Khoo, Climate disinformation co-chair , Friends of the Earth U.S. / Olivia Graham, Bishop of Reading, Church of England / Dr Catherine Barnard, CEO, World Land Trust / Lee Williams, Director, Green New Deal Virginia / Laura Lesser, Culture & Innovation, Virgin Media O2 / Amir Malik, MD, Accenture Interactive / Stephanie Brimacombe, CEO Europe and Global Chief Marketing Officer, VCCP Managing Director, Chime, VCCP / Harriet Kingaby, Co-Founder, Conscious Advertising Network / Jake Dubbins, Co-Founder, Conscious Advertising Network / Tina Fegent, Director, Tina Fegent Ltd / Co-Chair of the GSD Board, CAN / Dino Myers-Lamptey, Founder, The Barber Shop / Co-Chair of the GSD Board, CAN / Kwai Chi, Principal Social Media Manager, Intuit / Jane White, Founder, JW Collective / Karen Carter, Director Enterprise Marketing, Europe, Cvent / Christopher Kenna, CEO Brand Advance Group / Victoria Fox, CEO, AAR / Leila Deen, ED of Purpose Climate Lab / Julia Masters, Campaign Manager, Climate Disinformation Coalition / Anita Howard, Strategy Director, ICE / John Mayes, Company Director / Editor, Marshall Street Editors / Neil Chivers, Owner/Director, LD Communications / Tom Newton, Founder, strategist, TGN ltd / Stephen Jenkins, Founder & MD, Too Many Dreams