INSIGHT-Climate change turns up the heat on ad industry
(Reuters, 17 Dec 2020) Several U.S. states are suing key oil industry players for violating consumer protection laws with the help of 'greenwashing' ad campaigns.
The avuncular man in the TV ad has an urgent-sounding message from his employer, the oil giant Chevron Corp.
"I think renewable energy is vital to our planet," says the man, identified only as an environmental expert called Steve. "At Chevron we're investing millions in solar and biofuels technology to make it work." He adds that the energy can be made widely available and the work needs to begin "right now."
What Steve doesn't mention, according to three U.S. lawsuits alleging deceptive advertising, is that Chevron is overwhelmingly focused on fossil fuel extraction and its investment in renewables remains miniscule compared to the billions it spends each year on drilling for oil and gas.
Critics have long attacked the oil industry for ad campaigns that they call "greenwashing" - telling people that policies or products are more environmentally friendly than they really are. But the ad agencies behind the campaigns have largely escaped scrutiny.