ISD’s Head of Climate Research and Policy, Jennie King, spoke at the Europe Calling webinar earlier this month discussing the dynamics of climate mis- and disinformation and why they pose a serious threat to achieving progress on climate change.
“The things that really distinguishes climate mis- and disinformation from other forms, is that it has a legacy that goes back to the 1970s with an enormous amount of corporate funding behind it […]. There is a professionalised sector who have been employed to work on, spread and hone the messages for climate mis- and disinformation for decades. That does differ from other areas that feel more organic or grassroots,” she said.
Jennie highlighted why these dynamics are particularly acute at this moment: “What has happened in the last five years or so, is that climate has become a central pillar of what is referred to as the ‘culture wars’ […] you are no longer talking about climate policy on its own merits, you are talking about it from the perspective of partisan politics, identity politics and the idea that climate action as a whole is illegitimate because it is part of the ‘woke’ agenda.”
Drawing on on ISD reports ‘Deny, Deceive, Delay’ Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, Jennie further explained how fossil fuel-linked entities use sponsored ads containing climate mis- and disinformation on social media as part of their greenwashing techniques, and the profits these ads generate for social media companies such as Meta.
Finally, she emphasised the deceptive nature of these techniques and the challenges in identifying them: “The most prolific advertisers that are using social media are not the companies themselves, they are proxy groups […]. The reason it makes it a problem is that it makes it even more difficult for a member of the public or a user of those platforms to know that this is sponsored content.”
Other panellists included Annika Joeres, Professor Alberto Alemanno, and Christina Deckwirth.
The event ‘Anti-Climate Lobby: How fossil fuel interests torpedo climate action and what to do about it’ was held by Europe Calling on 5 June.