Deny, Deceive, Delay (Vol 2)
This new report from the Climate Action Against Disinformation (CAAD) coalition reveals the rampant disinformation present at last year’s COP27 climate summit in Sharm el Sheikh, and uncovers how some of the dangerous falsehoods spread can be tied back to fossil fuel actors. This is the second volume of Deny, Deceive, Delay, the first volume, which includes analysis on the disinformation around COP26 in 2021, can be accessed here.
The report reflects the efforts of the coalition’s COP27 Intelligence Unit, with analysts from 18 organisations and led by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD).
Key findings from the report include:
- A sample of fossil fuel sector-linked entities spent approximately 4 million USD on Meta for paid advertisements to spread false, misleading claims on climate crisis, net-zero targets and necessity of fossil fuels prior to and during COP27.
- The analysis identified 3,781 ads and the majority of these were from Energy Citizens (a PR group of the American Petroleum Institute) while America’s Plastic Makers alone spent over $1 million and the Saudi Green Initiative ran 13 ads.
- Analysts detected a surprising increase in content related to outright climate denial, including a spike on Twitter for the hashtag #ClimateScam since July 2022.
In addition, the report unveils the “narrative playbook” of disinformation claims prominent at the summit, these include:
- 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,”
- A broader connection between climate skepticism or denialism and the current culture wars, tying climate change concerns to “wokeness” (and, sometimes, using wokeness as a means to argue for fossil fuel development via “wokewashing”).
The report follows the announcement of oil executive Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber as the COP28 President, 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.
CAAD calls on the US government, EU, UN, IPCC and Big Tech companies 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.